Multiple Myeloma (cont.)
In this Article
Multiple myeloma and its treatment can lead to other health problems. At any stage of the disease, you can have supportive care.
Supportive care is treatment to prevent or fight infections, to control pain and other symptoms, to relieve the side effects of therapy, and to help you cope with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring. You may receive supportive care to prevent or control these problems and to improve your comfort and quality of life during treatment.
You can get information about supportive care on NCI's Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/coping and from NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER or LiveHelp (http://www.cancer.gov/help).
Because people with multiple myeloma get infections very easily, you may receive antibiotics and other drugs.
The health care team may advise you to stay away from crowds and from people with colds and other contagious diseases. If an infection develops, it can be serious and should be treated promptly. You may need to stay in the hospital for treatment.
Myeloma and its treatment can lead to anemia, which may make you feel very tired. Drugs or a blood transfusion can help with this problem.
Multiple myeloma often causes bone pain. Your health care provider can suggest ways to relieve or reduce pain:
Some people get pain relief from massage or acupuncture when used along with other approaches. Also, you may learn relaxation techniques such as listening to slow music or breathing slowly and comfortably.
Myeloma cells keep new bone cells from forming, and bones become thin wherever there are myeloma cells. Your doctor may give you drugs to prevent bone thinning and help reduce the risk of fractures. Physical activity, such as walking, also helps keep bones strong.
Too much calcium in the blood
Multiple myeloma may cause calcium to leave the bones and enter the bloodstream. If you have a very high level of calcium in your blood, you may lose your appetite. You also may feel nauseated, restless, or confused. A high calcium level can also make you very tired, weak, dehydrated, and thirsty. Drinking a lot of fluids and taking drugs that lower the calcium in the blood can be helpful.
Some people with multiple myeloma have kidney problems. If the problems are severe, a person may need dialysis. Dialysis removes wastes from the blood. A person with serious kidney problems may need a kidney transplant.
Some people with myeloma develop amyloidosis. This problem is caused by abnormal proteins collecting in tissues of the body. The buildup of proteins can cause many problems, some of them severe. For example, proteins can build up in the heart, causing chest pain and swollen feet. There are drugs to treat amyloidosis.
Nutrition and physical activity
It's important for you to take care of yourself by eating well, drinking plenty of fluids, and staying as active as you can.
You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.
However, you may not feel like eating during treatment or soon after. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods do not taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well. Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to deal with these problems.
Research shows that people with cancer feel better when they are active. Walking, yoga, swimming, and other activities can keep you strong and increase your energy. Exercise may reduce nausea and pain and make treatment easier to handle. It also can help relieve stress. Whatever physical activity you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start. Also, if your activity causes you pain or other problems, be sure to let your doctor or nurse know about it.
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