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HeadlineWhat is multiple myeloma? The disease that allegedly killed John Kumah

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What is multiple myeloma? The disease that allegedly killed John Kumah

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The recent passing of John Ampontuah Kumah, the Member of Parliament for Ejisu and a deputy finance minister, has brought attention to a lesser-known but significant health condition: multiple myeloma. In this article, we delve into the details of this blood cancer, shedding light on its causes, symptoms, and impact on patients.

John Kumah’s case:

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Before we explore multiple myeloma, let’s briefly touch upon John Kumah’s unfortunate demise. Contrary to earlier theories of poisoning, an alleged autopsy conducted by a certified pathologist, according to a GhanaWeb report, revealed that his death was attributed to multiple myeloma. This diagnosis sheds light on the importance of understanding this disease and its implications.

What is Multiple myeloma

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Multiple myeloma, also known as plasma cell myeloma, is a type of cancer that originates in the plasma cells—a specific type of white blood cell responsible for producing antibodies. These antibodies play a crucial role in our immune system, helping us fight infections and diseases.

Symptoms

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Initially, multiple myeloma may not exhibit noticeable symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, the following signs may emerge:

  1. Bone Pain: Patients often experience bone pain, especially in areas like the chest, spine, and ribs.
  2. Anemia: Abnormal plasma cells can outnumber healthy red blood cells, leading to fatigue, dizziness, and irritability.
  3. Kidney Dysfunction: Increased protein levels due to myeloma can harm the kidneys.
  4. Weakened Bones: The uncontrolled growth of plasma cells weakens bones, making them prone to fractures.
  5. Suppressed Immune Function: As healthy blood cells are crowded out, the immune system becomes compromised, increasing susceptibility to infections.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of multiple myeloma remains unknown, but several factors increase the risk:

  • Family History: Individuals with affected family members are more prone to developing the condition.
  • Monoclonal Gammopathy of Unknown Significance (MGUS): A precursor condition that can progress to myeloma.
  • Gender and Age: More common in males and typically affects people over 50.
  • Ethnicity: African-Americans are at higher risk.
  • Overweight and Obesity: Slightly increases the risk.
  • Radiation Exposure: Past exposure to radiation may contribute.
  • Lowered Immunity: HIV infection or immunosuppressant use.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing multiple myeloma involves blood tests, imaging (such as X-rays and CT scans), and bone marrow biopsies. Treatment options include:

  1. Medication: Chemotherapy (e.g., Vincristine, Doxorubicin), targeted therapy (e.g., Bortezomib, Carfilzomib), and corticosteroids (e.g., Prednisone, Dexamethasone).
  2. Bone Marrow Transplantation: Replacing unhealthy bone marrow with a healthy one.
  3. Radiation Therapy: Shrinking cancerous cells using high-energy beams.
  4. Balanced Diet: Patients should focus on fiber-rich foods, iron sources, and avoid infection-prone foods.

Multiple myeloma is a complex disease that affects plasma cells, bone health, and overall well-being. John Kumah’s case underscores the importance of awareness, early diagnosis, and compassionate care for those battling this condition. Let us continue to learn, support, and advocate for better understanding and management of multiple myeloma.


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