End-stage multiple myeloma (MM) is a devastating situation for the patient and the family. The patient suffers a lot due to the problems of multiple myeloma and seeing the patient in this stage would be a sad situation to the family.
It is important to recognize the end-stage multiple myeloma so, that the healthcare professionals and family members can focus on palliative treatment and improve quality of life rather than treating multiple myeloma. It’s sometimes difficult to recognize the end-stage of multiple myeloma with the new treatment methods and clinical trials therefore; sometimes patients will be on treatment for multiple myeloma during their final days. Some patients are diagnosed at a late stage and they can be in the end-stage of multiple myeloma during the initial diagnosis.
Following are some features to recognize multiple myeloma
- Multiple relapses with reduced length of remission
- Refractory disease
- Not tolerating further treatment
- Deteriorating in functional status
When end-stage is confirmed the patient and family should be informed and necessary measures should be taken to make the patient’s quality of life better and allow the patient to have a peaceful death.
What Are The Symptoms Of End-Stage Multiple Myeloma?
Fatigue– Fatigue is physical, mental and emotional tiredness associated with cancer. This tiredness is different from the normal tiredness; this tiredness does not get better with rest and its extreme tiredness. Almost all end-stage cancer patients experience this symptom. As a solution, you can take frequent breaks when you are feeling tired (while walking) and try to do activities that require less energy like listen to music, watch TV, sit outside, and go for a ride with someone.
Pain- This is one of the symptoms most cancer patients are scared and it affects all their daily activities. Pain can reduce your sleep, make you irritable, reduce your appetite, and can affect many other daily activities of your life. It is hard to even engage in any pleasurable activity when you’re in pain. Even in end-stage multiple myeloma, it is one of the symptoms.
Therefore, if you experience pain it’s important you inform your health care professionals about the level of pain, any specific activity that trigger pain and how much it affects your daily life. There is medicine to treat your pain and it can be managed effectively. Sometimes it might take 2 or 3 trials to identify the pain medication that suits you and relives your pain completely. It is important that you tell the health care team how effective a pain killer is so, that they can change or add pain killers to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life.
Loss Of Appetite– Most patients in end-stage multiple myeloma experience loss of appetite, the food does not taste as it tasted earlier, these patients eat very less and sometimes do not have an appetite at all. The loss of appetite leads to weight loss and wasting as well. This leads to battles between family members because they try to force feed and you refusing it, makes them sad and hurt. It’s best that both patient and family are educated about the symptoms of end-stage and ask them to communicate with each other rather than fighting over small things. (1)
Breathing Problems- Shortness of breath and trouble in breathing are commonly seen in end-stage multiple myeloma patients. You might feel you need to really breath harder and faster to get normal air and cough might also be present. These symptoms come on and off and it might disturb your sleep and other daily activities. If you experience these symptoms let your health care team know so, that they can manage it effectively. (2)
End-stage multiple myeloma is a devastating situation for the patient and the family. It is important to recognize the end-stage multiple myeloma so, that the healthcare professionals and family members can focus on palliative treatment and improve quality of life rather than treating multiple myeloma. The symptoms seen in end-stage multiple myeloma are fatigue that is unusual and not getting better with adequate rest, pain, loss of appetite and shortness of breath and trouble breathing.
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- How Aggressive Is Multiple Myeloma & How Is It Treated?
- What Foods Should I Avoid With Multiple Myeloma?
- Can You Exercise With Multiple Myeloma & What Exercises Are Better?
- Does Multiple Myeloma Go Into Remission?
- Is Multiple Myeloma A Death Sentence?
- Can Multiple Myeloma Be Cured Naturally?