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9 Warning Signs of Bone Marrow Cancer
One of the earliest signs of multiple myeloma is a general feeling of exhaustion that fails to go away, even when one gets lots of rest and follows a healthy diet. These feelings of fatigue are usually related to the way multiple myeloma attacks the healthy cells of the bone marrow, which in many cases can result in anemia or inconsistent cytokine production.
Because feelings of fatigue are fairly common, this symptom should be considered in combination with other signs of multiple myeloma on this list. For example, someone who has a family history of cancer, and especially bone marrow cancer, will want to be tested for multiple myeloma if they suddenly experience a long, generally unbreaking wave of exhaustion lasting several days or weeks.
Anemia, which occurs when the number of red blood cells reaches critically low levels, results from multiple myeloma because it causes the suppression or crowding out of healthy red blood cells. The most common side effect of anemia is an overpowering feeling of fatigue that may not break even with healthy diet, ample rest, fluids, or stimulants like caffeine. This feeling of general exhaustion can last for days or even weeks at a time.
However, it should be noted that anemia is not only related to multiple myeloma and the development of bone marrow cancer. It can result from a number of other health conditions, from pregnancy to menstruation and iron and vitamin deficiency. Simply failing to get enough iron in the diet can cause anemia.
3. Pain in the bones
One of the more obvious and distinct signs of multiple myeloma is feelings of pain in the bones. This is because multiple myeloma forms in the marrow of the bone and, as time goes on, its suppression of healthy red blood cells can cause the bone to thin and weaken, resulting in osteoporosis. Once this stage is reached, the chance of fracturing or completely breaking the affected bone increases substantially.
It also results in mild to moderate feelings of pain in and around the bone. This pain may be more noticeable if the problem involves particularly critical bones, such as the spine, which are responsible for supporting multiple parts of the body. This pain tends to increase with movement and may be considerably more noticeable during the evening and early morning hours. If the spine is affected, the patient may experience compression fractures that cause slumping; over time, this could even result in a patient losing a few inches from their height.
Because multiple myeloma targets the healthy red blood cells of the bone marrow, in time it can cause the patient’s bones to weaken. While this often results in the affected bones becoming frailer and painful, it can also lead to general feelings of numbness.
This sensation of numbness is most pronounced when multiple myeloma invades the vertebrae of the spine. As the problem spreads through the spine, it causes the bones to weaken, resulting in vertebrae coming into contact with each other and the nerves spiraling around the spine. In touching upon these highly sensitive nerves, multiple myeloma effectively scrambles the signal traveling between the brain and spine, leaving the area feeling numb.
5. Kidney problems
If not caught early on, multiple myeloma can eventually lead to significant problems in the kidney. This is because the development of multiple myeloma results in the emergence of proteins that, when produced to excess — as they often are when multiple myeloma takes hold — can put undue pressure on the kidneys, resulting in damage or even kidney failure.
Ideally, the patient would recognize other signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma — such as excessive fatigue or bone pain — and be able to take action prior to reaching the stage where kidney problems emerge. However, should those signs not raise flags, the emergence of kidney-related issues should be identified as a possible sign of multiple myeloma.
Over time, multiple myeloma results in the production of cancerous cells that effectively push healthy cells out of the bone marrow. This makes the bone feel weak, painful, and potentially numb. In time, it could cause the bone to fracture or completely break.
This wearing down of the bones through multiple myeloma also results in a condition known as hypercalcemia, which emerges when there is an excessive amount of calcium in the blood. Hypercalcemia is often found in people with multiple myeloma, because their bones, which contain calcium, are effectively breaking down. Hypercalcemia introduces its own, rather significant health problems, from exhaustion to constipation and kidney issues.
7. Weight loss
8. Mental confusion
9. Frequent illnesses
9 Warning Signs of Bone Marrow Cancer