What is smoldering myeloma?
Smoldering myeloma is a precancerous condition that leads to multiple myeloma. It results in an accumulation of proteins that can be seen in the blood or urine, and this buildup will occur before the onset of symptoms.
What are the symptoms of smoldering myeloma?
Because smoldering myeloma is a precursor to cancer, it is often asymptomatic. There will be elevated levels of proteins in the blood and urine created by malignant plasma cells. Some experience lesions on the spine. There will be bone damage in only one area of the body and slight anemia.
If this condition does evolve into multiple myeloma, symptoms become much more severe. Effects include vomiting, nausea, confusion, pain in the back bones and ribs, excessive thirst, chronic fatigue, broken bones, frequent infections, frequent urination, weight loss, and fever.
What causes smoldering myeloma?
This condition occurs when cancerous plasma cells begin to secrete proteins into the blood. These proteins accumulate over time, meaning that a person may have smoldering myeloma for years before it evolves into multiple myeloma.
Doctors are unsure why these cells become malignant, but they do believe that there are certain risk factors. People over the age of 65 are at a heightened risk of this condition, as are African-Americans. Males are also diagnosed more than females.
How is smoldering myeloma diagnosed?
A blood test is the main way to diagnose smoldering myeloma. If this test shows heightened levels of protein, doctors will order more tests to check for malignant cells in the bone marrow. These include a bone marrow biopsy, a urinalysis, a CT scan, or an MRI.
What are the treatments for smoldering myeloma?
Treatment may not be immediately necessary. If there is no progression, doctors will simply monitor you. There is also a drug that may be prescribed to delay development, called lenalidomide. If it evolves into multiple myeloma, chemotherapy, radiation, or a bone marrow transplant are treatment options.