Multiple myeloma is a hematologic cancer that grows in the blood due to rapid growth and reproduction of damaged blood plasma cells. These cancerous cells interfere with the immune system and bones. Its symptoms start to build up over time.
Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
- Pain, especially bone pain from lesions that make holes in the bone
- Extreme fatigue (feeling weak or tired)
- Bone fractures
- Drained quality of life
- Increased risk for infections such as pneumonia, shingles and urinary tract infections
- Depression and anxiety
Palliative care for Multiple Myeloma
Palliative care is most important for patients of multiple myeloma as recent advances in its treatment have turned it into a chronic, long-term illness that is manageable with good care. It cannot be cured but, patient can live for years with specialized medical care from palliative team.
Palliative care is provided by a team of specialists, including palliative care doctors, nurses and social workers who work with oncologist to provide an extra layer of support and improved life to the patient.
Although palliative care can be given at any age and at any stage of illness but ideally, it should be started as soon as the patient is diagnosed with multiple myeloma and be continued throughout the entire course of illness and treatment. It gives best results when given along with curative treatment.
Goals of Palliative care for Multiple Myeloma
- Focused to provide relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness like multiple myeloma
- Improve quality of life for both patient and his family
- Expand patient survival
- Prescribe bone strengthening drugs like bisphosphonates as bones are major target areas of the disease
- Strengthen immune system
- Manage co-morbidities like arthritis, diabetes etc.
- Guide patient and their loved ones in making tough medication decisions
- Recommend various exercises to maintain bone strength, reduce the loss of calcium, and help prevent fatigue
Advantages of Palliative care for Multiple Myeloma
- Provides significant relief from symptoms of disease and from side-effects of treatment
- Improve quality of life and patient survival
- Advices treatment especially for nerve pain
- Initiates other treatments like blood transfusions and psychostimulants
- Maximises the benefits of treatment
- Helps patient and family to understand complex medical information, and to match treatment choices to the personal needs and goals of the patient
- Prepares patient to better cope with the challenges of multiple myeloma
- Enhances communication between patient, family and oncologist
- Provides guidance on any tough questions and important decisions