Surgery for multiple myeloma
Surgery is sometimes used to treat multiple myeloma. The type of surgery you have depends mainly on the location of the tumour, your symptoms and other factors such as your age and general health.
The following are ways that surgery is used to treat multiple myeloma. You may also have other treatments before or after surgery.
Support and prevent fractures in weakened bones
Surgery to support and prevent fractures (breaks) in weakened bones is called orthopaedic care. Metal plates or rods may be placed in bones such as the spine or pelvis to help support them.
Newer techniques may also be used if the bones of the spine (called vertebrae) are fractured.
Vertebroplasty – Bone cement is injected into a fractured vertebra to stabilize it.
Kyphoplasty – When part of a vertebra collapses, a balloon is inserted into the collapsed area to raise it up. Bone cement can then be injected in the area that was collapsed to stabilize the vertebra.
Treatment of spinal cord compression
Emergency surgery may be done to stabilize the spine and relieve compression on the spinal cord.
Learn more about spinal cord compression.
Remove a tumour
Surgery can also be used to remove a tumour outside of the bone and bone marrow (called an extramedullary plasmacytoma). Surgery may be used alone or before or after radiation therapy to remove an extramedullary plasmacytoma.
Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for multiple myeloma, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.
Side effects can develop any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after surgery. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years after surgery. Most side effects will go away on their own or can be treated, but some may last a long time or become permanent.
Surgery for multiple myeloma may cause these side effects:
- nausea and vomiting
- wound infection
- blood clots
- wound separation
- nerve pain or nerve damage
- cement leak
Cement is used in vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty to stabilize a fractured vertebra . Sometimes the cement can leak into the surrounding tissue, which can cause nerve pain.
Tell your healthcare team if you have these side effects or others you think might be from surgery. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.
Questions to ask about surgery
Establishing a national caregivers strategy
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.