Relapsed Multiple Myeloma

Relapsed Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that starts in the plasma cells of the bone marrow. It is a fairly rare cancer, but incidence rates are increasing. Relapsed multiple myeloma is when a person who previously had multiple myeloma, has seen the cancer return. This is one of the most common challenges in this disease.

What Causes Relapse?

The cause of relapse can range from a weak or inadequate cancer treatment, a stronger than usual return of the cancer, or a change in the cancer’s biology. It can also occur when there are cancer cells remain in the body that were not eliminated during the first round of treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Relapse

Common signs and symptoms of relapse include:

  • An increase in the number of tumor markers in the bloodstream
  • A new area of bone pain or difficulty in the bones
  • Feeling tired and weakened
  • Fever or chills
  • Night sweats
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Appetite loss

Diagnosis and Treatment

If a person with relapsed multiple myeloma experiences any of these symptoms, they should immediately seek out medical attention and their doctor may order additional blood tests or imaging to confirm a relapse. Treatment for relapsed multiple myeloma often involves chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, specific targeted therapy, or radiation therapy. A physician will usually take into account a patient’s age, health, and preferences to determine the best course of action.

Prognosis and Coping

The prognosis for relapsed multiple myeloma is usually worse than in the first diagnosis, however, many people still go into remission. It is important for people who have been diagnosed to remain hopeful and focus on areas of their life they can control. Coping strategies can include talking to a mental health professional, joining a support group, engaging in meaningful activities, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.