Multiple Myeloma or Kahler’s disease: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this cancer

Updated on Sep 02, 2022 02:39 PM IST

Multiple myeloma or Kahler’s disease is a cancer mostly in men due to the rapid production of deadly plasma cells within the bone marrow. Here's all you need to know about its causes, warning signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Multiple Myeloma or Kahler’s disease: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this cancer (Anna Tarazevich)
Multiple Myeloma or Kahler’s disease: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this cancer (Anna Tarazevich)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Multiple myeloma is a haematological (blood related) cancer characterised by uncontrolled multiplication of a deadly plasma cells (a type of white blood cells) within the bone marrow where the abnormal proteins produced by these cells accumulate in the bone marrow and produce complications. Also known as Kahler’s disease, it is commonly seen in males over 45 years or older with high calcium, kidney dysfunction, anaemia, easy bruising, bleeding and most importantly bone pain accompanied by lytic lesions lasting 2-4 weeks.

Causes:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Bhavya Saxena, Pathologist – Operations at Metropolis Healthcare Limited, shared, “Causes of multiple myeloma or Kahler’s disease are yet unknown but factors like obesity, alcohol consumption, environmental (certain chemicals, radiations) and viruses (HTLV, HIV) have been linked to an increased risk causing genetic alterations. ASR states 0.7 per 1,00,000 population is affected a year in India.”

Symptoms:

Dr Preeti Goyal, Medical Director of vHealth by Aetna, revealed, “The most common presenting features are bone pain and anaemia; the condition may also be identified through investigation of fatigue, weight loss, frequent infections, hypercalcaemia or even constipation.”

Diagnosis and treatment:

According to Dr Bhavya Saxena, diagnosis of MM can be made by bone marrow examination, serum and urine electrophoresis for the presence of paraprotein (M protein) and immunofixation, also X-rays showing osteolytic lesions. She assured, “Life expectancy of patients with MM has improved significantly because of early diagnosis, use of immunomodulators, proteasome inhibitors, autologous stem cell transplantation, and maintenance therapy. The best way to defeat MM is to stay connected with medical professional and not to miss annual physical and laboratory tests.”

Echoing the same, Dr Preeti Goyal highlighted, “Tests used to establish a diagnosis include serum and urine protein electrophoresis, serum and urine immune-fixation, serum free light-chain assay, bone marrow examination, and whole-body computed tomography or skeletal survey. Treatment includes conventional chemotherapy-based regimens and non-chemotherapy regimens. Non-chemotherapy based regimens include immunotherapy, corticosteroids, radiation therapy and finally bone marrow transplantation where the cancerous bone marrow is replaced by stem cells collected from the patient themselves.”

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