Myeloma bone disease is the most common complication of myeloma at diagnosis, affecting some 70% of newly diagnosed patients.
Myeloma bone disease can have the following effects:
- Osteopenia (bone thinning);
- Lytic lesions;
- Pathological fracture;
- Collapsed vertebrae/kyphosis/height loss;
- Spinal cord compression;
Treatment of the myeloma itself is one of the most effective ways of controlling further bone breakdown, correcting hypercalcaemia and relieving pain.
In most cases, myeloma bone disease is likely to be an ongoing issue but treatments are available to slow down its activity, alleviate symptoms and sometimes correct the complications that occur.
A group of drugs called bisphosphonates are the central treatment of myeloma bone disease. Bisphosphonates are small molecules that bind to calcium and as a result are taken up into bone. They inhibit the activity of the osteoclasts and therefore interrupt the increased bone breakdown. Bisphosphonates are generally well tolerated and any side-effects are usually mild. The most common are: Fever and flu-like symptoms; Vein irritation; Nausea; Impaired kidney function; Osteonecrosis of the jaw.
Bone pain is the most common symptom of myeloma bone disease. If left untreated or unmanaged, it can become debilitating and have a major impact on your quality of life.
Pain caused by myeloma bone disease is often relieved by treatment of the myeloma itself. Responding well to antimyeloma treatment is a major factor in reducing progression of myeloma bone disease, easing pain and improving quality of life.