Tip Card - Early Warning Signs

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¡ Multiple myeloma, also called simply “myeloma,” is a cancer of the bone marrow plasma cells, white blood cells that make antibodies. Myeloma cells are cancerous plasma cells. ¡ Myeloma is treatable and many patients live long and productive lives after being diagnosed. ¡ According to the National Cancer Institute SEER data, more than 30,000 new cases of myeloma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. ¡ Men are more likely than women to develop myeloma. ¡ Myeloma is most frequently diagnosed in individuals who are 65–74 years of age, but it is also being diagnosed in people younger than 50. Myeloma is not only a disease of the elderly. ¡ Myeloma is the most common blood cancer diagnosed in African Americans, who have a greater-than-average risk of developing it.

Primary care doctors are the first to diagnose half of all myeloma patients Earlier diagnosis of myeloma can result in earlier treatment and fewer secondary complications. Delayed diagnosis is associated with a greater incidence of secondary complications. When diagnosed by a primary care doctor, more than 50% of myeloma patients experience a delay in diagnosis of more than 6 months. If you or your doctor suspect that you might have myeloma, get a second opinion from a myeloma specialist, in person or remotely.

Any ONE of these early warning signs could indicate myeloma ¡ Bone pain (persistent or recurrent) ¡ Back pain (persistent or recurrent) ¡ Fatigue (unexplained progressive tiredness)

Any ONE of the “CRAB” diagnostic criteria could indicate myeloma ¡ Calcium – elevated level in the blood, ¡ Renal (kidney) impairment – elevated creatinine, ¡ Anemia – low red blood cell count, ¡ Bone damage.

The best and most cost-effective screening tests for myeloma Accurate and efficient testing can save myeloma patients from secondary complications. Follow the recommendations of the International Myeloma Working Group and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and get all 3 screening tests: 1. F reelite® test (serum free light chain assay; “free kappa, free lambda with ratio, serum”), 2. S PEP (serum protein electrophoresis), and 3. IFE (immunofixation electrophoresis). When these 3 tests are used together, they will identify 99% of myeloma cases. If used separately, SPEP will miss 1 out of 8 cases of myeloma.

Early diagnosis is key to achieving best outcomes for myeloma patients! As always, the IMF urges you to discuss all medical issues with your doctor, to visit myeloma.org for more information, and to contact the IMF InfoLine with your myeloma-related questions and concerns.

International Myeloma Foundation

4400 Coldwater Canyon Avenue #300 – Studio City, CA 91604 1.818.487.7455 TheIMF@myeloma.org myeloma.org


Early Warning Signs of Myeloma

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