3 effective ways to manage multiple myeloma
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Here, cancerous cells begin accumulating in the bone marrow and outnumber the healthy cells. This leads to huge amounts of unwanted proteins rather than helpful antibodies. About 34,000 adults in the country are estimated to be affected by this condition in 2022. However, the disease can be managed through the following treatment options, foods, and lifestyle changes:
Multiple myeloma does not have a permanent cure, but the disease and its symptoms can be managed with the right treatment. Doctors may recommend immunotherapy to treat this blood-related condition.
This is a treatment method that empowers the patient’s immune system to fight cancerous cells. It is a biological therapy where certain substances derived from living beings are used for the treatment. Here are a few options:
CAR T-cell therapy: This is a form of immunotherapy prescribed for multiple myeloma patients. This works on the T-cells (a white blood cell type), stimulating them to fight cancerous growth. The therapy involves drawing blood from the patient and adding chimeric antigen receptors (or CARs) to the blood, helping the T-cells target certain cancerous cell antigens. The CAR T-cells are then infused into the blood of the patient. Doctors can recommend BCMA-targeted immunotherapy for patients to enter remission. The B-cell maturation antigen or BCMA helps regulate the growth and survival of B cells, and it is heavily present in myeloma cells. Targeting BCMA to kill cancer cells can slow the progression of the disease. BCMA-targeted treatment is a form of CAR T-cell therapy.
Monoclonal antibodies: These are synthetic or man-made antibodies that attack the proteins on the myeloma cell surface. The antibodies attach to the CD38 protein on the myeloma cells, killing them and strengthening the immune system to attack the cancerous cells. Some monoclonal antibodies can target BCMA and are associated with chemotherapy.
Here are a few foods that can help with symptom management:
Foods with ursolic acid: Apples, basil, rosemary, and cranberries are rich sources of ursolic Acid (or UA) which is a triterpene compound naturally found in many fruits and veggies. Due to UA’s anti-oxidizing, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and apoptotic properties, it can help suppress factor-kappa B signals in cancerous growths and thus inhibit cancer cells. Additionally, apples also are fibrous in nature which helps prevent constipation and promotes clear bowel movement in patients.
Cruciferous vegetables: Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower contain isothiocyanates— a compound that exhibits anti-cancer properties. To top it, broccoli has high fiber content that keeps the body free from constipation, one of the common side-effects of various treatments for the disease.
Iron-rich foods: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, and nuts are rich sources of iron, an essential mineral to help fight against blood-related diseases. Due to the cancerous buildup in the bone marrow, there could be a reduced number of red blood cells or RBCs in the blood brought on by the deficiency of iron.
Blueberries: This fruit is a rich source of pterostilbene that exhibits antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. This helps fight malignant cell growth and helps normal cells function better.
Turmeric: This spice contains curcumin which is known for its antioxidant properties. It has been researched for cancer treatment, and studies suggest that it can slow the growth of malignant cells and protect healthy cells from damage during certain treatment procedures.
Foods rich in folate: Black-eyed peas, broccoli, and lentils contain folate or folic acid that helps slow down the spread of cancer as it helps repair cells.
Vitamin C sources: Bell peppers, oranges, berries, and lemon juice contain vitamin C, which helps in the faster absorption of iron. Besides, this essential vitamin activates the immune system to produce healthy cells.
Foods with vitamin B12: Dairy products, soy milk, almond milk, and flax milk contain good amounts of vitamin B12. This nutrient supports the growth of healthy blood cells and prevents megaloblastic anemia.
Sources of vitamin D: Studies show that higher levels of this essential vitamin can help reduce the spread of cancer and lower the chances of metastasis. Oranges, yogurt, and milk contain vitamin D.
Additionally, people affected by the condition may need to avoid eating foods that can induce nausea and vomiting. So, patients should limit their intake of raw, unwashed foods like raw meat, raw eggs, and sushi.
Other than the treatment and food, people with multiple myeloma need to make changes to their lifestyle so that the side-effects of treatment do not have a severe impact and the immune system stays strong. Common lifestyle changes include:
Regular exercise: This helps boost the immune system, energy levels, fitness levels, and emotional outlook.
Fall management: The disease can increase the risk of falling. Patients should use supportive devices like canes, keep their home well-lit, get rid of furniture or hurdles that increase the risk of falling, and install handrails.
Fatigue management: Patients should seek help to carry out household chores like cooking and cleaning to avoid feeling exhausted. It is important to get ample rest and sleep.
Additionally, one should reduce the risk of infections and practice good hygiene, avoid crowded places, use disinfectants, and stay vaccinated as recommended by the doctor.
While the disease is not as common as other blood-related cancers, it can be managed with the help of doctors and a proper treatment plan.