Multiple Myeloma Treatment Palliative Care

Multiple myeloma often requires palliative care. Palliative care has no effect on the progression of the disease, but it provides supportive treatment to control symptoms and improve quality of life.

Providing Bone Pain Relief

Bone lesions, fractures and nerve pain caused by vertebral compression are common symptoms of myeloma. Radiation therapy offers pain relief from bone lesions by slowing the growth and spread of tumors. Radiation therapy can be used only periodically and for limited amounts of time. Over-the-counter or prescription analgesics can also provide some pain relief.

Controlling Infections

The high levels of abnormal white blood cells resulting from multiple myeloma cause a reduction in the number of healthy antibodies in the bloodstream, increasing the chance of infection. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infection, or as a preventive measure.

Some patients respond well to gamma globulin therapy. Gamma globulin contains a number of antibodies that respond to common infections. Research indicates that gamma globulin therapy may reduce the number of infections experienced by multiple myeloma patients.

Treating Hypercalcemia

As tumor lesions destroy bone tissue, excess amounts of calcium build up in the bloodstream, causing hypercalcemia. Left untreated, hypercalcemia can result in kidney damage or even kidney failure.

Adequate hydration is essential to keep the kidneys working as efficiently as possible. The steroid prednisone may be prescribed to lower calcium levels in the blood. The bisphosphonates pamidronate and zoledronic acid bind to areas of bone that have been damaged and slow bone degeneration. Calcitonin may be used to slow the rate of bone tissue deterioration. Bisphosphonates and calcitonin have been used to treat osteoporosis.

Coping with Anemia

Anemia results from decreased levels of red blood cells and is one of the most common complications of multiple myeloma. Blood transfusions may be required to replenish red blood cell levels. Transfusions may include platelet cells to control bleeding and blood clotting problems.

Reducing Uric Acid Build-Up

Uric acid builds up in the blood as a result of chemotherapy. Excess uric acid causes a condition known as uricemia, which can cause the formation of kidney stones and gouty arthritis. Uricemia is treated with allopurinol, which reduces the production of uric acid.

Resources

Beers, M. H.,