Multiple myeloma is a rare type of cancer that often hides in plain sight, with causes that are unknown. In this, cancerous plasma cells start to accumulate in the bone marrow. While some common symptoms like bone pain, fatigue, and kidney problems are well-known, there are several lesser-known signs of multiple myeloma that individuals should be aware of. Recognizing these signs can lead to early diagnosis and improved treatment outcomes.
One of the lesser-known signs of multiple myeloma is a susceptibility to recurrent infections. Plasma cells play a crucial role in the immune system, and when they become cancerous, they can crowd out healthy cells, weakening the body’s ability to fight infections. As a result, individuals with multiple myeloma may find themselves getting sick more frequently or experiencing more severe infections than they normally would.
Nerve-related symptoms can also be indicative of multiple myeloma. As the cancerous cells accumulate in the bone marrow, they can put pressure on nearby nerves. This can lead to tingling, numbness, or weakness in the extremities. In some cases, individuals may even experience difficulty with coordination or balance.
Fatigue and weakness
Fatigue and weakness are common symptoms in cancer patients but can also be early indicators of multiple myeloma. The cancerous cells in the bone marrow can disrupt the production of red blood cells, leading to anemia. Anemia, in turn, can cause persistent fatigue, weakness, and pale skin.
Bone pain in unusual places
Bone pain is a well-known symptom of multiple myeloma, but it can manifest in unexpected areas of the body. While most people associate bone pain with the back or ribs, individuals with multiple myeloma may experience pain in unusual bones, such as the hips, pelvis, or even the skull. This pain can be persistent and worsen over time.
High calcium levels in the blood
Elevated blood calcium levels, known as hypercalcemia, can be associated with multiple myeloma. When the cancerous cells invade the bone tissue, they can release calcium into the bloodstream, leading to symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, constipation, and confusion. Monitoring blood calcium levels can help in early detection.