Multiple Myeloma: Care Instructions
Multiple myeloma is cancer in plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell. The cancer cells crowd out normal cells in the bone marrow, causing problems like anemia and bleeding. The cancer cells can also weaken bone and form tumours in the bone or other areas.
Healthy plasma cells make antibodies that help fight infection. But myeloma plasma cells make abnormal antibodies. This can make it hard for your body to fight infection and can cause problems with the kidneys.
Multiple myeloma that isn't causing symptoms may not need treatment right away. When symptoms are present, most people will have several types of treatments. These may include:
- Radiation therapy.
- Medicines, such as corticosteroids.
- Targeted therapy.
- Stem cell transplants.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Tell your doctor if you are experiencing new pain, or pain that interferes with your daily activities. Do not try to "tough it out."
- Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
- Eat healthy food. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat food that has protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss.
- Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired.
- Get enough sleep, and take time to do things you enjoy. This can help reduce stress.
- Think about joining a support group. Or discuss your concerns with your doctor or a counsellor.
- If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
- When you are able to eat, try clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O.
- If you have not already done so, prepare an advance care plan. An advance care plan provides instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have a fever or chills. Or you may be sweating.
- You have abnormal bleeding.
- You have new or worse pain.
- You think you have an infection.
- You have new symptoms, such as a cough, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash.
- You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
- Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
- You are much more tired than usual.
- You have swollen glands in your armpits, groin, or neck.
- You do not get better as expected.
Current as of: May 4, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Jimmy Ruiz MD - Hematology, Oncology