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Infections Caused by Multiple Myeloma

Infections are now the leading cause of death in people with multiple myeloma 12. Advances in treatment have extended survival; however, certain myeloma therapies weaken patients' immune systems. For these reasons, the spectrum of infections appearing in people with multiple myeloma has changed 12.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

High Risk for Infection

People with multiple myeloma have higher risk for infection due to their suppressed immune system. The cancer cells destroy normal antibodies and produce white blood cells that don't work.

Types

CRV Infections

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People with multiple myeloma get bacterial, fungal and viral infections, according to expert hematologists. The most common pathogen is gram-negative bacteria, which causes kidney infection. Pneumonia caused by various pneumoniae pathogens frequently occurs. Recently, a sharp increase in invasive fungal infections caused by molds has occurred in patients with multiple myeloma, reports Seminars in Hematology 1.

Medication-Induced Infections

Certain medications increase the risk for infection in people with multiple myeloma 12. Therapy with bortezomib, a new class of medication that causes cancer cells to die by blocking proteasomes, reactivates the herpes simplex and herpes zoster viruses, according to Clinics for Infectious Disease. The novel immunomodulating drugs thalidomide and lenalidomide are often used in combination with chemotherapy, which by itself kills healthy white blood cells. Respiratory and urinary tract infections can occur as well. Another severe infection is bacteria in the blood (15 percent), which can lead to death.

Medications That Boost White Blood Cells

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Stem cell transplants prolong life; however, patients must stay in the hospital for weeks until their transplanted stem cells begin to produce enough white blood cells. The spectrum of infections following transplant includes unusual pathogens such as Clostridium difficile, cytomegalovirus and opportunistic molds, according to Clinics for Infectious Disease.

The Wrap Up
  • Infections are now the leading cause of death in people with multiple myeloma2.
  • For these reasons, the spectrum of infections appearing in people with multiple myeloma has changed2.
  • Pneumonia caused by various pneumoniae pathogens frequently occurs.
  • The novel immunomodulating drugs thalidomide and lenalidomide are often used in combination with chemotherapy, which by itself kills healthy white blood cells.
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