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Can EmpowHER help me? My son has cancer – Plasmacytoma

By HERWriter Guide July 3, 2010 - 5:29pm
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I’ve heard from a mom who’s worried about her adult son. He broke a bone in his leg last week after a fall, and ended up in the hospital, where they found a tumor and diagnosed him with a cancer called plasmacytoma. He’s now home from the hospital, and she’d like help understanding his condition.

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HERWriter Guide

Dear Worried Mom -

Yes, EmpowHER can help you. Thanks for your question and your support of your son. While a cancer diagnosis may physically affect only one person, the nature of the disease is that the entire family is affected, especially those who assist with caregiving.

To understand your son’s cancer, we need to first talk about how blood cells normally work in the body. Most blood cells develop from cells in the bone marrow called stem cells. They include white blood cells which fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen to body issues and platelets which form the blood clots that stop bleeding.

The body is made up of hundreds of millions of living cells, including stem cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells.

Plasmacytoma is a cancer that starts in plasma cells, which are white blood cells that make antibodies that are part of the immune system. In this type of cancer, the abnormal plasma cells (also known as myeloma cells) collect in one location and form a single tumor, called a plasmacytoma. This tumor may form in bone marrow or in the soft tissues outside of the bone marrow.

You said your son has been told he will be treated with radiation therapy. Plasmacytoma treatment may also include chemotherapy and surgery. When this cancer is isolated to a single area, the radiation treatment is typically very successful, however, it would be in your son’s best interests to monitor his health for signs of cancer for the rest of his life. I also suggest that you encourage him to get involved with a cancer group specifically for young people so that he can benefit from the support of others and learn more about how to maintain good health for the future. One of the best is the “i’m too young for this!” cancer foundation which can be found at http://i2y.com/ and is the voice of young adults with cancer.

Since you may have more questions, I want to refer you to two experts who have videos on our site that deal with bone cancers. They are:
Dr. Christopher Beauchamp: http://www.empowher.com/users/dr-christopher-beauchamp
Dr. Kim Templeton: http://www.empowher.com/users/dr-kim-templeton

Just look below their names at the “My Activity” section and you will likely see some of the questions that are on your mind.

You mentioned that your son is a twin, and you are concerned about his brother and wondering if he too could develop this cancer. The answer is that the medical community really does not know why a person develops this and whether there is a genetic link. Since this is a cancer with very vague symptoms, though, it would be good to be sure his brother is aware and that he’s monitored during his regular check ups.

I hope this has helped address your questions and relieved some of your worries. I also hope we will hear from others who’ve had this type of cancer themselves, or have had it in their families.

All of this is brand new to you, but as time goes on you may feel the need for some support for yourself. Since you live in Phoenix you may want to learn about The Wellness Community which provides a wide range of free support services for cancer patients and families. http://www.twccaz.org/

Please let us know if you have additional questions, and we wish you, your son and your entire family the best of health in the days and years ahead.

Take care,

July 3, 2010 - 5:40pm
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