Myeloma kidney is a life-threatening consequence of severe kidney damage caused by cancer of the hematopoietic system. It develops after severe poisoning by proteins that are formed by the so-called multiple myeloma. The shedding of these protein cylinders directly weakens the renal tubules, which can very quickly lead to acute kidney failure.
What is myeloma kidney?
Multiple myeloma is also known as plasmacytoma. It is characterized by the proliferation of plasma cells in the blood, which are responsible for the production of antibodies. These abnormal plasma cells give rise to cancer cells and produce antibodies that are only identical to themselves. Multiple myeloma can progress slowly, but it can also be very fast and aggressive. The so-called myeloma kidney can emerge from it. See sciencedict for Introduction to Asperger Syndrome.
The plasmacytoma is considered to be the most widespread malignant tumor in the bone marrow and in the bones. However, it usually does not appear until after the age of 40. At the age of 60, the disease accumulates, in men more than in women.
Four to six new cases per 100,000 inhabitants and year were measured. About one in ten hematological cancers is multiple myeloma. According to estimates, around 75,000 people worldwide suffered from a plasmacytoma in 2015.
Medical research has not yet been able to verify exactly which factors lead to a myeloma kidney. It is believed that heredity plays some role. There are also assumptions that ionizing radiation can have an important influence on the development of the disease. It is also possible that the pesticide glyphosate has a harmful effect, which comes about through nutrition.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
After a malicious plasma cell has clonally multiplied, it damages the bone marrow and negatively affects blood formation. Gradually, the affected bone can be destroyed and broken down. These massive bone changes are prominent in around 60 percent of patients.
In addition, the malignant cells form defective, very aggressive antibodies or antibody parts (light chains), which cause further complications of the disease in the body. The natural immune system is thus severely impaired. Larger tissue deposits can lead to serious functional failures in various organs.
These include kidney failure, but also severe irregularities in the overall blood flow. Because the protein content increases, the blood becomes significantly thicker. The smallest blood vessels can easily become clogged and the blood supply to the brain in particular is poor.
Initially, those affected therefore first perceive hearing and vision disorders or slight fainting spells. Primarily, the unnatural growth of the plasma cells leads to bone pain and later minor bone fractures. Calcium in the blood increases sharply due to the release from the bone. In return, the red blood cells formed in the bone marrow decrease drastically.
Diagnosis & course of disease
The diagnosis can often only be made under unclear conditions, because the condition goes far beyond damage to the kidneys. In the early stages of multiple myeloma, there are sometimes misdiagnoses, since the symptoms that have arisen are suspected to be kidney hypothermia or rheumatism, a sprain or bone decalcification (osteoporosis).
The examination of the blood shows what is known as a fall in the number of white blood cells. Their proportion in the blood decreases at a strikingly high rate. The blood picture often shows a considerable anemia. The number of platelets in the blood can also decrease significantly.
In patients with already progressive bone loss, the calcium level increases in an unnatural way. Possible damage to the kidneys can be seen relatively well from changed kidney values. Due to the lack of antibodies caused by the malformations of the plasma cells, the patients’ susceptibility to a wide variety of infections increases.
This is often accompanied by a generally perceived physical weakness and a more or less significant loss of weight. Headaches, nausea, dizziness and paralyzing sleepiness are also common. The light chains (antibody parts) resulting from the excessive multiplication of the diseased plasma cells are often deposited in the renal corpuscles and renal tubules.
This leads to an increased excretion of protein in the urine, which is then missing in the blood. Because functional disorders of the kidneys become noticeable, acids, for example, are excreted to a reduced extent. In contrast, there are deficiencies in phosphate, glucose, uric acid and amino acids.
Myeloma kidney is a life-threatening disease. If this is not treated immediately, in the worst case it can lead to kidney failure and ultimately to the premature death of the patient. The life expectancy of those affected is significantly reduced by this disease. The patient’s immune system is also significantly weakened, so that inflammation and infections occur more often.
In addition, the internal organs can be severely damaged and their function reduced. The blood flow in the body is irregular and there is also a greatly reduced blood flow in the brain. Those affected often lose consciousness and can also injure themselves in the process. Furthermore, the myeloma kidney leads to bone fractures and thus to a severe reduction in the patient’s quality of life.
The reduced blood flow to the brain can also lead to paralysis and irreversible damage to the entire body. The treatment itself is carried out through chemotherapy or through a stem cell transplant. However, chemotherapy can have a variety of side effects. As a rule, the treatment can limit the symptoms, but not completely eliminate them, so that the life expectancy of the patient is reduced in any case by the myeloma kidney.
When should you go to the doctor?
Patients who are already being treated by a doctor for kidney damage should see a doctor for a check-up if their symptoms worsen or their general sense of health continues to deteriorate. In addition to the scheduled check-ups, a visit to the doctor is necessary in the event of pain, disorders of the immune system, an increased susceptibility to infections or a decrease in performance.
If there is a disturbance of consciousness or a loss of consciousness, an emergency medical service is required. First aid measures must be taken to ensure the survival of the victim. General dysfunctions of the organism are alarming and must be presented to a doctor without delay. Therefore, there is a need for action in the event of reduced vision or a decrease in hearing.
A doctor should be consulted if the urine is abnormal, discolored, changes in quantity or smell. Fatigue, rapid fatigue and an increased need for sleep are signs of irregularity. If headaches, weight loss or circulatory disorders occur, a doctor should be consulted. A decrease in concentration and attention, apathy, as well as withdrawal from social life should be discussed with a doctor. Nausea, unsteady gait and dizziness are also unusual and should be clarified. A pale complexion, cold fingers and toes and a quick feeling of cold can be an indication of a health impairment that needs to be treated.
Treatment & Therapy
A fundamental cure for multiple myeloma is not possible with the medical methods known to date. If there are no symptoms yet, the course of the disease is initially observed. This includes regular examinations of the bone marrow and various laboratory tests.
Drug or anti-cancer therapy is only initiated when significant bone changes occur. Nowadays, the patient’s condition can be kept stable for six to ten years with several possible treatment methods and his quality of life can be maintained at an acceptable level.
Chemotherapy is carried out according to the classic model, whereby side effects can be extremely effectively reduced with the help of the latest medication. The tendency of the malignant cells to divide can also be conventionally blocked with localized radiation therapy.
What is known as an autologous stem cell transplant, in which stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow are used, is also possible. You can regenerate blood formation after a short time. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation is used much more rarely, in the course of which a completely new blood formation system is to be formed with foreign stem cells.
Here, however, the risk of rejection must be suppressed over a period of about a year with the help of medication. However, stem cell transplants are not suitable for older people.
Outlook & Forecast
A myeloma kidney can be treated relatively well. The exact prognosis depends on various factors. First of all, it is important whether the condition occurs in connection with chronic kidney disease or as an independent disease. The prognosis is positive if treatment is initiated early. Above all, a myeloma kidney as a result of glomulular light chain disease can be treated well with the appropriate medication. In patients with AL amyloidosis, the prognosis is worse because the deposits remain in the body for a long time. In the worst case, kidney failure occurs and the patient dies as a result.
Left untreated, a myeloma kidney is often fatal. The patient experiences increasing discomfort, which eventually leads to organ failure. Treatment must then follow immediately, otherwise the patient will die as a result of the myeloma kidney and the resulting kidney failure. The patients have a limited life expectancy. The prognosis can be improved by consulting a nephrologist or other specialist doctor early on, who can initiate treatment according to the symptoms. If this is done in time, the quality of life can be preserved. Nevertheless, long-term complaints can occur, which must be treated individually. Above all, the typical symptoms of poisoning must be treated comprehensively.
Since the causes of myeloma kidneys have not yet been clarified, there are no preventive measures. In principle, contact with known risk factors such as ionizing radiation or pesticides and other carcinogenic substances should be avoided.
In most cases, the patient with a myeloma kidney has only very few and limited direct follow-up measures available, so that a quick and, above all, early diagnosis is primarily necessary for this disease. Therefore, those affected should consult a doctor as soon as the first symptoms and signs of the disease appear in order to prevent the occurrence of other complications and symptoms.
The sooner a doctor is consulted, the better the further course of the disease. In most cases, those affected by myeloma kidneys are dependent on chemotherapy, which can relieve the symptoms. Comprehensive support from one’s own family is also very important during therapy in order to prevent depression and other psychological upsets.
Most of those affected depend on the care of other people in their everyday life. Regular checks and examinations by a doctor are also very important in order to identify and treat further complaints at an early stage. In most cases, the myeloma kidney reduces the life expectancy of the patient and cannot be completely healed.
You can do that yourself
A myeloma kidney cannot be treated causally so far. The most effective self-help measure focuses on relieving symptoms. The patient should consult closely with the doctor and follow the doctor’s instructions to avoid complications.
The pain can often be reduced with natural remedies such as valerian or arnica. The typical feeling of illness can be alleviated by moderate exercise and an adapted diet. Rest and bed rest apply during and after radiotherapy. The patient must take the necessary measures to support healing and eliminate risks. This is achieved by identifying any risk factors. A complaint diary can be created here in cooperation with the doctor.
After the treatment has been completed, further check-ups are indicated. The affected person should visit a specialist clinic for kidney diseases regularly so that the organ can be examined for possible recurrences. If you develop any unusual symptoms or complaints, you must inform your doctor.
Since a myeloma kidney is often a long-term disease that puts a considerable strain on those affected, psychological counseling is also useful in addition to medical treatment. If desired, the therapist can also establish contact with a self-help group for the chronically ill.