Bone marrow cancer: Symptoms and treatment

Bone marrow is responsible for producing red blood cells and is also an essential component of the lymphatic system, the one that supports the body’s immune system. Bone marrow cancer begins when there is an abnormal growth of a tissue mass in the marrow. There are two types of bone marrow cancer.

  • Primary: It starts in the bone itself.
  • Secondary: It has metastasized and spread from the other parts of the body to the bone. Here are common types of this cancer:
    • Multiple Myeloma: In this type of cancer, cancerous plasma cells nudge out healthy cells and weaken the bones.
    • Lymphomas: It usually begins in lymph nodes, but can also start in the bone marrow.
    • Leukemia: In this kind of cancer, the body makes abnormal blood cells that can’t fight infection or can’t form clots during bleeding.
    • Osteosarcoma: – It originates at the tips of long bones of arms and legs.

Bone cancer is detected by methods such as biopsy, bone scan, blood test and imaging test that includes X rays, MRI scan, and CT scan to get in-depth views of the bone structure. Cancer treatment largely depends on the symptoms of bone marrow cancer, which are as follows:

  • Pain and swelling in the affected bones where the pain tends to progress and worsen over time
  • Palpable hard mass in the long bones of the limbs
  • Tiredness
  • Easily broken bones because of weakened structures
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness in legs, accompanied by a tingling sensation

Though bone cancer is not completely curable, recent treatments can manage the symptoms effectively and help to improve the quality of life. Bone marrow cancer treatment depends on various factors such as the following:

  • Stage of cancer
  • Age of the patient
  • Overall health of the patient
  • Size and location of tumor

After a thorough diagnosis on all parameters, bone cancer treatment can include the following:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy cancer treatment
  • Pain relief medication to reduce inflammation and discomfort
  • Bisphosphonates to protect bone structure and to prevent bone loss
  • Cytotoxic drugs to inhibit further growth of cancerous cells
  • Radiation therapy

Apart from these, an oncologist may include relapsed multiple myeloma treatment, alternative therapies and surgery to remove malignant tumors or affected tissues, if they are concentrated in a small location.