Zon & Wolk


The disease of Kahler / Multiple Myeloma



I have the disease of Kahler or multiple myeloma. This disease is a cancer of plasma cells. Plasma cells are found in bone marrow, the blood producing tissue that fills in spaces within bone. Plasma cells produce antibodies, substances that help the body fight infection. Usually plasma cells make up 1 to 2 percent of all cells in the bone marrow. In a person with multiple myeloma, however, abnormal plasma cells (or myeloma cells) multiply.

The growth of myeloma cells results in reduced production of blood, which results in anemia. Fatigue is the most obvious symptom. In addition, bone damage that can result in painful rib fractures and spinal compression fractures can occur. In a small proportion of patients the protein that is produced by the plasma cells can damage the kidney.

I am right now in good hands at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam. The Division of Hematology provides primary care for multiple myeloma and works closely with universities in Holland.

Treatment:

I have a very agresive form of multiple myeloma, so I have the following treatment:

One treatment for myeloma is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use of medicine to kill cancer cells. It may include intravenous (given directly into a vein) medications. Radiation therapy (high-energy, penetrating X-rays) may also be given. Last week I had my first block of chemo (each day, four days long); and this will repeat three times. If you have chemotherapy, the number of myeloma cells in your bone marrow and the amount of monoclonal protein in your blood and urine will be closely monitored. This information helps your physician monitor your progress and make any needed adjustments to the treatment. A decrease in the monoclonal protein level usually means that the treatment is working. A stable monoclonal protein level indicates that the disease is stable, often the result of effective treatment. The monoclonal protein rarely disappears completely from blood and urine. After that in july I must get a peripheral stem cell transplantation. Peripheral stem cell transplantation involves the use of high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy and the transfusion of previously collected immature, or "young," blood cells to replace diseased or damaged marrow. The proper role for peripheral stem cell transplantation in treating multiple myeloma is being investigated. People must meet specific medical requirements to be considered for this treatment.

Although my myeloma cannot be cured, it may be controlled with treatment. With good treatment results, you usually can return to near-normal activity.




Last modified: mei 2004