cancer

Guest Blog: Multiple Myeloma in Elders: Diagnosis and Treatment

Introduction:

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. These abnormal plasma cells make antibodies that attack your body’s normal tissues and organs. Multiple myeloma affects a person’s blood cells, bones, kidneys and other tissues.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow:

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infection. Multiple myeloma can also be called multiple myeloma or plasma cell myeloma.

The abnormal growth of these abnormal plasma cells produces proteins that are too large to be filtered out by kidneys and pass into urine instead of being excreted through bile ducts as they should be. This causes high levels of protein in urine (proteinuria), which is often detected during routine bloodwork done when you visit your doctor for other reasons such as a physical exam or dental checkup. Some studies suggest that it can also cause insulin resistance but it’s not confirmed yet!

Myeloma Basics:

Myeloma can affect any bone in the body, but most often it affects the spine or pelvis (hip). The exact cause of multiple myeloma isn’t known, but researchers think it may be related to an abnormal gene that causes your body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue rather than foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses.

Multiple myeloma occurs when there are too many abnormal plasma cells in your bone marrow–the soft tissue inside bones where new blood cells are made–and these abnormal cells crowd out normal ones needed for good health. As these abnormal plasma cells grow out of control, they damage bones throughout their growing process until eventually they become painful lumps called osteolytic lesions on x-rays taken during treatment or at follow-up visits after treatment has ended; these osteolytic lesions often lead to fractures over time if left untreated because they weaken underlying bone structure underneath them causing fractures when stressed enough under stress due to everyday activities such as walking around while standing up straight bending over lifting heavy objects etc…

You may feel tired and have a low-grade fever:

You may feel tired, have a low-grade fever and experience weight loss. Other symptoms of multiple myeloma include bone pain and anemia (a lack of red blood cells). You may also have trouble sleeping, feel weak and have muscle aches and pains. You also may need multivitamins which you can buy from any pharmacy or online supplement store!

The only way to confirm multiple myeloma is to perform a biopsy:

The only way to confirm multiple myeloma is to perform a biopsy, which is the removal of tissue from the body for examination under a microscope.

Biopsy can be done in many different ways depending on where the cancer cells are located. For example, if you have a tumor that’s visible on an X-ray or CT scan (a bone marrow biopsy), or if your doctor suspects they might be present in some other part of your body (an aspirate).

There are several tests used to diagnose multiple myeloma:

There are several tests used to diagnose multiple myeloma. The most common is a bone marrow biopsy, which is a procedure in which a sample of bone marrow is removed from your hipbone and sent to a lab for testing. In addition to looking at the cells under a microscope, doctors also test them for markers associated with myeloma such as the protein plasma cell protein (PACP) or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).

If you have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, your doctor may recommend additional tests including:

  • Physical exam: A physical examination by your doctor may reveal swollen lymph nodes, bone pain (from bone lesions) or anemia (low red blood cell count).
  • Blood tests: To measure levels of antibodies that help fight infections and abnormal cells in blood; also checks immune function and kidney function
  • CT scan or MRI scans: Used to detect tumors in bones or other organs like the liver or spleen

Surgery or other procedures may be used for a diagnostic biopsy:

If you’re diagnosed with multiple myeloma, your doctor may recommend a diagnostic biopsy. This is a procedure that involves removing tissue from your body so it can be studied under a microscope. The goal of this type of biopsy is to determine if you have multiple myeloma and how far it has progressed.

You’ll likely be given general anesthesia, which means you’ll be asleep during the procedure. Your doctor will insert one or more needles into different parts of your body where they can remove samples of bone marrow (the soft inner part) or plasma cells (a type of white blood cell). The most common places for these procedures are:

  • The backside (posterior) part of the hipbone
  • Underneath both arms near where they meet at the chest area
  • In between two vertebrae at the base of neck near shoulder blades

Many treatments are available for multiple myeloma:

The goal of treatment is to slow disease progression and reduce symptoms. There are many treatments available that can help people with multiple myeloma live longer and have better quality of life. Drugs that suppress the immune system may be used to control the cancer, but these drugs also increase your risk for infections and other health problems. Other drugs target cancer cells directly, but they often have serious side effects such as nausea or hair loss (anemia).

Bone marrow transplantation may be an option for some people with multiple myeloma who have had a relapse after receiving high-dose therapy with autologous stem cell rescue (ASCR) or immunomodulatory drugs like thalidomide or lenalidomide followed by bortezomib maintenance therapy; however, this procedure is complex and risky because it requires finding compatible donors who are willing to donate bone marrow stem cells through an invasive surgery called pan-hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (PHSCT).

Some people may treat their multiple myeloma with drugs:

Some people may be able to treat their multiple myeloma with drugs that suppress the immune system. These drugs are called immunomodulatory drugs, and they can help slow down the progression of multiple myeloma in some people. In addition, these medications may also help some people achieve remission–a period where there is no evidence of cancer in your body (for example, no new bone lesions). However, it’s important to know that these medications are not a cure for multiple myeloma; if you stop taking them or if they lose effectiveness over time, your cancer will likely return.

Some common examples of immunomodulatory medicines include:

  • thalidomide (brand name Thalomid)
  • lenalidomide (brand name Revlimid)

Managing Symptoms, Side Effects and Complications of Treatment:

You may experience a variety of symptoms and side effects during treatment. Your doctor will work with you to manage these issues as best they can.

When talking to your doctor about symptoms and side effects, be sure to:

  • Give the exact time when the symptom or side effect started (for example, “I’ve been having trouble sleeping since last night”).
  • Tell them what makes it better or worse (for example, “When I lay down in bed at night”).
  • Describe how long the problem lasts (for example, “It goes away after 20 minutes”). Your doctor will use this information to determine whether there’s anything they can do for you right away or if they need additional tests before providing treatment options that might help relieve your discomfort over time.

Other drugs are given to slow disease progression or create remission:

In addition to surgery and radiation, other drugs are given to slow disease progression or create remission in some people with this type of cancer. The most commonly used drugs for multiple myeloma are:

  • Lenalidomide (marketed as Revlimid) and dexamethasone (marketed as Sandostatin LAR) – These medications may be taken alone or in combination with bortezomib (marketed as Velcade). They work by blocking a protein called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), which helps fight inflammation but also helps cancer cells grow. This treatment can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; however, they often go away after you’ve been taking the medication for a while.

Conclusion

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. The only way to confirm it is by performing a biopsy. You may feel tired and have a low-grade fever during treatment, but there are many treatments available that can help people with multiple myeloma live longer and have better quality of life.

By |2023-12-13T12:07:08-05:00December 14th, 2023|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Multiple Myeloma in Elders: Diagnosis and Treatment

Caregiver Tips: Planning for Long-Term Cancer Care

Caregivers for long-term cancer care

Long-term cancer care supports cancer patients throughout their treatment journey. Patients diagnosed with cancer may choose a friend or family member as their cancer caregiver. When taking on the role of caregiver, make sure to understand how to best assist them. Here are some tips below to help get you started.

 

Tip 1: Understand the diagnosis of your cancer patient and how it affects them

Aggressive Cancers

Being a cancer caregiver opens up new responsibilities and challenges. There are many types of caregiving that provide help for the general health and wellbeing of patients. With cancer caregiving, patients often require specialized help. You may be familiar with senior or disability caregiving, but certain cancers are more difficult to manage. For example, breast cancer is common but involves a different caregiving approach than mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lungs that typically targets older adults.

There is currently no available cure for mesothelioma. This results in a 79 percent, 1-year survival rate, even with multimodal treatment—which combines one or two cancer treatments. Cancer patients and caregivers may have many questions surrounding treatment. For this reason, caregiver resources help plan and ease long-term mesothelioma cancer care. Take time to understand the type of cancer your patient has and how mesothelioma will affect them physically, mentally, and socially. The decision to have long-term cancer care is hard on the patient, too. Caregivers relieve some of the burdens patients will have. With this in mind, preparing for your patients will help you fully grasp this role.

It’s also crucial to work with the doctors and cancer teams to provide quality care. Depending on what type of caregiver you are, your responsibilities could change. More qualified caregivers may have to administer medications. Connecting with the doctor will help the cancer team with their prognosis strategy and your patient’s long-term cancer care. This will also help you better understand the patient’s needs.

Tip 2: Keep the patient, family and friends involved

It can be devastating when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Putting in the effort to work with your patient and their family will make them feel included and comfortable during this difficult time. Caregivers spend a lot of time with patients. By creating healthy relationships with them, you can give them the support and encouragement they need. Often, treatment is hard on patients and takes long recovery times. You will be one of their biggest advocates.

Tip 3: Pay attention to how you feel

Amidst the distress you and your patient will undergo, it’s vital to check in on yourself. It may seem as though your feelings aren’t as valid as those you are helping, but that isn’t the case. You won’t be able to fully care for your patient if you’re not caring for yourself as well. To avoid burnout, dedicate time for yourself to process your emotions and feelings, especially because of how draining long-term cancer caregiving can be.

If you are taking a cancer caregiver position, keep these tips in mind. Caregiving is not babysitting. Patients and their families rely on caregivers to handle what they cannot. Taking on this role is both an immense commitment and a privilege.

 

 

By |2023-06-30T10:40:29-05:00July 23rd, 2023|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Caregiver Tips: Planning for Long-Term Cancer Care

Guest Blog: 3 Prostate Cancer Warning Signs

About 13 out of every 100 men will get prostate cancer. The older you are, the more at risk your body is to getting prostate cancer. Luckily, there are some clear signs and symptoms you can watch out for to seek treatment early.

Keep reading to know exactly how prostate cancer changes your body so you can catch it at its earliest signs.

Experience Frequent Urination

Feeling like you need to use the restroom every five minutes? This could be a warning sign of prostate cancer. There are other reasons you could be having to urinate more often but if you have a healthy daily routine and the problem persists, you may want to consider the possibility.

The urge to urinate is even worse at night. You might find yourself getting up to go to the bathroom several times in the middle of the night.

This all happens because of how close the prostate gland is to your bladder and urethra. If a tumor is growing on your gland it will cause pressure on your bladder, making you feel like you have to pee more often.

This can also cause difficulty when you’re actually trying to go. You might notice you don’t have as much control over starting and stopping.

If the problems continue over a period of days you’ll want to set up an appointment with your doctor.

New Onset of ED

Another warning sign of prostate cancer is the onset of erectile dysfunction. You might have been performing just fine the week before, but all of a sudden you can’t seem to get the job done.

Prostate cancer will push against your groin and urethra, causing the flow of blood to the area to be blocked. Normally, erectile dysfunction starts happening to men who are around the same age as men who get prostate cancer.

The two aren’t always going to be directly linked so you’ll need to get a consult from a medical professional to determine the actual cause.

Discomfort When Sitting

When you sit down do you experience a bit of discomfort? Maybe you even feel a significant pain when you sit down. If you do, consider the signs could be from a more serious condition.

 

As the prostate gland becomes enlarged due to the abnormal growth, it will cause a pain in your groin area when you sit down. The gland is putting too much pressure on the other areas of your body, causing them to be sensitive when they are squished together while sitting.

Your entire pelvic area could swell if it turns out to be prostate cancer and you haven’t done anything about your pain. The gland will continue to get bigger as it progresses, causing you even more pain.

If your discomfort continues over several days you need to take action to prevent anything worse from happening.

Prostate Cancer Warnings

Your body will give you several warning signs and symptoms that you might have prostate cancer. You may experience ED, discomfort when sitting, or a frequent urge to urinate. If you do, consult a medical professional and set up an appointment as soon as possible

By |2023-05-30T11:55:08-05:00June 21st, 2023|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: 3 Prostate Cancer Warning Signs

How Treatment for Prostate Cancer Reached the Radiation Stage over the Past 20 Years

It was in 1853, when a surgeon J. Adams, working at The London Hospital diagnosed prostate cancer for the 1st time. The disease was discovered during a histological examination and Adams described it as “a very rare disease”. Today, 165 years later, this disease has progressed quite rapidly and is considered as one of the most severe health problems.

Why is there such an increase in the number of people afflicted with this disease?

There are three reasons behind, which include:

• First, in the early years until the 1900s, after the disease was discovered, there was no special diagnosis technique that could differentiate urinary obstruction from prostate cancer
• Second, this cancer increases rapidly with age, as compared to other types of cancer
• Third, it is believed that prostate cancer is linked with the “Western” lifestyle. While the main causes of prostate cancer are age, family history and ethnic group, research suggests that obesity and a diet rich in calcium can also contribute to this disease

Here’s a timeline of how prostate cancer treatment reached radiation therapy:

In the early years, it took a long time to diagnose patients with cancer. By the time a treatment plan was created, the disease would take a dangerous turn and the patient would die within 1 to 2 years.

Androgen-Ablation Therapy
It was in 1786, when the Androgen-Ablation Therapy was discovered. However, it wasn’t until 1940 that this technique was used to treat prostate cancer. This therapy involved oral estrogen and medical castration to treat the cancer. While this therapy did reduce the size of the prostate, it didn’t provide any help with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Over the next 40 years, different hormone therapies were tried and a few were deemed successful. To this day, Androgen-Ablation Therapy is considered the best prostate cancer treatment.

Prostatectomy
During this time, other treatment options were in trial and in 1904; Prostatectomy emerged as a clear winner. This treatment involved removing the cancerous or all parts of the prostate gland to cut the disease from the root. There were several improvements in this therapy but almost all patients refused this treatment because it left them impotent.

Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy for prostate cancer took the stage in the early 20s. People were a bit skeptical about the treatment but when rapid advancements were made in the technology, they became more open to the treatment. Moreover, the therapy gave people the option to go for it during surgery or after surgery.

• X-ray Therapy
This therapy involves megavoltage and high-energy X-rays that penetrate the cancerous cells more deeply, which helps minimize the area of skin exposed to radiation. Doctors also used Imaging, so that they could specify the affected area and direct the radiation beams there.
• Proton Therapy
This radiation beam is more precise and doctors are able to control the depth of the beam penetrating the body. The proton therapy prevented “exit radiation”, which made a single radiation dose more powerful.
• Stereotactic Ablative Radiation Therapy
This therapy allows surgeons to target small and specific areas with a high dose of radiation. It allows them to use radiation during complicated surgeries.

There is still much room to experiment with radiation therapy for prostate cancer. New technology is being tested and people with no hopes are being admitted into trials, to find out if they have a chance to beat this disease or not.

By |2021-06-02T13:49:37-05:00June 5th, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How Treatment for Prostate Cancer Reached the Radiation Stage over the Past 20 Years