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Multiple Myeloma: What a Nurse Needs to Know

When it comes to multiple myeloma nursing, interventions are critical. How a nurse detects and treats a patient can have a big impact on his or her overall prognosis. For this reason, it is vital that nurses fully understand this disease, so they can diagnose and treat it as quickly as possible. Here is what a nurse needs to know about multiple myeloma.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is, put simply, a cancer of plasma cells. It is often confused for bone cancer, multiple myeloma does not occur in the bones themselves, but in the bone marrow. Multiple myeloma is a relatively common form of cancer. According to Cancer.gov, it is predicted that 22,000 people will have been diagnosed with this debilitating disease by the year 2013 is over. Multiple myeloma occurs when the abnormal plasma cells build up in several different bones throughout the body.

What are the Risk Factors?

Knowing the risk factors of multiple myeloma is extremely important for nurses in order to aid in efficient diagnosis. While the cause of this disease is unknown, as with all cancers, there seems to be certain risk factors that appear more frequently in multiple myeloma patients. Most commonly, people diagnosed with the disease are over the age of 65. Almost all patients are at least older than 35. To find a patient under the age of 35 is truly rare.

When it comes to race, the highest incidence of the disease is found in African Americans, and the lowest incidence is in Asian Americans. The reason for this is unknown. Men also have a higher occurrence of the disease. In fact, in 2011, 11,400 men were diagnosed while only 9,100 women had the disease. Family history does appear to have an effect, as does a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Other environmental risk factors are still being studied and as of now are inconclusive.

What are the Symptoms?

Once again, knowing the symptoms of this disease is a truly important step for nurses. If they can properly recognize the symptoms, they can properly diagnose multiple myeloma. The most common symptoms of the disease include bone pain (most commonly in the back and ribs), a high occurrence of broken bones (specifically the small bones in the spine), being very thirsty, tired and weak, getting frequent infections, weight loss, frequent urination, and nausea or constipation. As with any disease, these symptoms can also be associated with other ailments, so it is important to always confirm any suspicions with the proper diagnostic tools.

How is the Disease Diagnosed?

When it comes to multiple myeloma nursing interventions, the diagnosis is undoubtedly the most important. If diagnosed early enough, the chances of fully catching the disease and stopping it are much greater. There are several ways for nurses to help diagnose this disease. Blood tests are often done to check for high levels of protein or calcium, or a low occurrence of white blood cells and platelets. Additionally, urine tests can be used to look for the Bence Jones protein. Another great option is to perform an x-ray to look for broken or thinning bones. While all of these methods can help give the nurse a clearer picture of the disease, the only true way to diagnose it is with a biopsy of the bone marrow.

What are the Treatment Options?

Once the disease is confirmed, it is up to the patient and doctor to determine the best course of action. First, the doctor and nurse will determine what stage the disease is in. In other words, how far along it is and if it has spread to the rest of the body. If the multiple myeloma is still in its early stages, the nurse may want to advise the patient to wait and watch the disease to see how it progresses. If it is further along, a combination of drug therapy and/or a stem cell transplant may be recommended.

If multiple myeloma is properly diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, many patients go on to live a long, healthy life. However, as with any cancer, if it is diagnosed too late, the success rates dramatically plummet. For this reason, multiple myeloma nursing interventions are vital for the overall care of their patients.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association

Colorado Technical University Online

Specialized, industry-current degree programs in Health Administration Services, Healthcare Management and Nursing.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
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South University

Several nursing programs are available at the bachelor's, post-graduate, master's, and doctoral levels.

Programs:

  • Nursing (BS)
  • Nursing (RN to BSN)

Grand Canyon University

Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!

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Kaplan University

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
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Medical Careers Institute

Start a great career in healthcare with Medical Careers Institute.

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Kaplan University

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
  • Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
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Wilkes University

Wilkes University’s School of Nursing offers CCNE-accredited online degrees and certificate programs ideal for working health care professionals, instructed by experienced, respected faculty dedicated to mentoring and personalized support for every student.

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  • RN to MS - Nursing Informatics
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West Coast University

Advance your career. 100% Focused on Health Sciences.

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Kaplan University - KHE

At Kaplan University, we offer over 180 degree and certificate programs.

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  • MS in Nursing
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South University

As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.

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  • Nursing (BS)

Bradley University

Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning.

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  • Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Leadership Track (MSN to DNP)
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Keiser University Graduate School

For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 

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  • Master of Science in Nursing

Northcentral University

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

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  • Doctor of Education - Nursing Education

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