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Berita Sinar Harian – 1 October 2023

Multiple myeloma is a rare form of blood cancer that may increase risk factors as we get older with age. According to the American Cancer Society, one in 132, or 0.78% of the population is at risk of this form of cancer.

The National Cancer Institute revealed an estimated 35,000 new cases of multiple myeloma being recorded and an expected mortality figure of 170,405.

Is there a cure for multiple myeloma? What is the quality of life for patients suffering from this cancer?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood plasma cells which consist of lymphocytes or white blood cells, crucial for our immune system. Plasma cells reacts to infection by forming antibodies against invasion and inflammation.

Myeloma cancer occurs when plasma cells multiply uncontrollably causing overproduction of the white blood cells in the bone marrow.

Bone marrow transplant

Consultant Internal Medicine and Clinical Haematologist at Beacon Hospital, Dr Tengku Ahmad Hidayat elaborated on the treatment for multiple myeloma “Chemotherapy is seldom administered for multiple myeloma unless it is an aggressive form of cancer cell. A combination of targeted therapy and immunotherapy is used to treat multiple myeloma.

Targeted therapy is used to control cell growth, while immunotherapy helps the immune system attack cancer cells. In some cases, chemotherapy might be combined with targeted therapy to effectively destroy cancer.

The bone marrow transplant is another option although the suitability of this procedure depends on the patient’s age (65 and below) and health condition (free from chronic diseases)”.

Chances of survival

“In early detection, multiple myeloma is highly treatable, at stage 1, the survival rate can be up to 10 years. At stage 3, the survival rate is between 2 years or below” Dr Tengku added.

Based on the Revised Multiple Myeloma International Staging System, the 5-year survival rate is between 40 to 82 percent to which Dr Tengku quipped ‘multiple myeloma is controllable although there is risk of recurrence’.

Dr Tengku shared that patients with multiple myeloma should eat a healthy and balanced diet for energy and should refrain from raw food to avoid the risk of infection due to a lowered immune system. Otherwise, the patient can do their daily activity except for patients with bone-related fractures or kidney problems.

He concludes by saying “There is no prevention for multiple myeloma, early detection gives the best prognosis if it is treated early”.

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