Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

Multiple myeloma symptoms vary from person to person. Some people with multiple myeloma cancer may experience no symptoms for several years. The acronym “CRAB” describes some of the most common multiple myeloma symptoms, including:

  • (Hyper) Calcemia
  • Renal failure
  • Anemia
  • Bone lesions.

Hypercalcemia Symptoms of Myeloma

The accumulation of abnormal plasma cells can spread from your bone marrow to the hard outer layer of your bones. When bones dissolve, they release calcium into the bloodstream. This can produce a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Constipation
  • Excessive thirst due to dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental confusion
  • Nausea
  • Weakness.

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms of Renal Failure

M proteins can collect in the kidneys and cause permanent damage. Some of the symptoms of kidney failure are the same as those of hypercalcemia, including fatigue, nausea and weakness. Kidney damage may create strange sensations in the body, including constant itching, muscle cramping and swollen feet and ankles. Kidney stones are another of the myeloma cancer symptoms.

Anemia Symptoms

Anemia is a multiple myeloma cancer symptom that develops when abnormal plasma cells crowd out healthy red blood cells. Some of the most telling symptoms of anemia are breathlessness, excessive fatigue and pale skin. Other symptoms may include dizziness, chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.

Bone Lesion Symptoms

Multiple myeloma causes damaged areas of bone called “osteolytic lesions.” Bone pain is often the first myeloma cancer symptoms to develop. According to Myeloma Canada (2010), 70 percent of patients are diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer after seeking medical attention for bone pain.

Bone pain is most common in the back and ribs, but may also be felt in the hips, skull and spine. Pain is generally linked with movement and is not present if you’re at rest.

Additional Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

In addition to abnormal blood tests, symptoms of myeloma include:

  • Excessive bleeding and bruising
  • Fever and chills
  • Repeated infections, such as bladder, lung and skin infections
  • Sensation of numbness in the legs
  • Weight loss.

When Should You See a Doctor for Symptoms of Myeloma?

If you’re experiencing some of the multiple myeloma symptoms outlined above, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Early detection and treatment are generally associated with a better prognosis for multiple myeloma cancer. These symptoms may also indicate the presence of other medical conditions.

Resources

Cancer Research UK. (n.d.). Myeloma symptoms. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/myeloma/about/myeloma-symptoms

International Myeloma Foundation. (2009). Common symptoms of multiple myeloma. Retrieved September 28, from http://myeloma.org/ArticlePage.action?tabId=1&menuId=161&articleId=2732&aTab=-1&gParentType=menuitem&gParentId=161&parentIndexPageId=52&parentCategoryId=443

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Multiple myeloma: Symptoms. Retrieved September 28, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/multiple-myeloma/DS00415/DSECTION=symptoms

Myeloma Canada. (2010). Symptoms. Retrieved September 28, 2010, from http://www.myelomacanada.ca/en/symptoms.htm

National Cancer Institute. (2008). Risk factors. Retrieved September 28, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/myeloma/page4

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. (n.d.). Symptoms, diagnosis & risk factors. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from http://www.seattlecca.org/diseases/symptoms-diagnosis-risks.cfm.cfm

The Cancer Council NSW. (n.d.). Understanding multiple myeloma: Multiple myeloma explained. Retrieved September 28, 2010, from http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/editorial.asp?pageid=1105