What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer. It affects plasma cells that produce antibodies to fight infections and diseases.
Healthy plasma cells are found inside bones in the bone marrow. Abnormal plasma cells can grow out of control and form tumors in the bones.
A single plasma cell tumor is known as an isolated plasmacytoma. A person who has more than one plasmacytoma has multiple myeloma.
The antibodies made by plasma cells are special proteins that circulate throughout the body in the blood stream. Multiple myeloma causes affected plasma cells to create large numbers of abnormal proteins that cannot be used by the body.
Multiple myeloma can also damage bone tissue and cause it to break down or dissolve. Hypercalcemia is the condition that results when dissolved bone results in abnormally high amounts of calcium in the blood.
How Does Multiple Myeloma Affect the Kidneys?
Kidney failure is a common complication of multiple myeloma that affects approximately 20 percent of patients.
The kidneys are organs in the abdomen that act as filters to clean waste products out of the blood stream. This waste is passed out of the body as urine.
Multiple myeloma can damage the kidneys’ ability to filter waste.
Kidney failure results when the kidneys are no longer able to function and they shut down. Kidney failure must be treated with dialysis in which machines take over the work of the kidneys to remove waste from the body.
If multiple myeloma results in excess calcium in the blood, the kidneys can be damaged due to overwork as they try to remove the extra calcium. This can cause permanent kidney damage.
Multiple myeloma can also damage the tubules inside the kidneys that allow blood to flow through the kidney to be filtered. Abnormal proteins created by cancerous plasma cells travel through the blood to the kidneys.
Normal proteins are small enough to pass through the tubules without causing damage. But chains of abnormal proteins can sometimes link up with other proteins in the kidney that are a normal part of urine.