CATCHING cancer early can hugely increase the chances of survival, so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms to look out for.
Bone marrow cancer is particularly hard to diagnose as it may not be visible in the earliest stages.
A bombshell new book has claimed that the late-Queen suffered from the illness in the final part of her life.
Biographer Gyles Brandreth wrote that Her Majesty suffered from the panful disease, despite her death certificate recording old age as her cause of death.
Here’s everything you need to know about bone marrow cancer.
What is bone marrow cancer?
As the name suggests, the cancer affects bone marrow, the spongy tissue at the centre of some bones.
Bone marrow is essential in producing both red and white blood cells, the latter of which are the building blocks of the immune system.
Multiple myeloma, the type allegedly suffered by the Queen, often affects several areas, including the spine, skull, pelvis and ribs.
What are the symptoms of bone marrow cancer?
In its earliest stages, bone marrow cancer often does not cause any symptoms and is diagnosed after a routine blood or urine test reveals an issue.
However, in later stages, there is a wide range of signs associated with the disease.
These include persistent bone pain (usually in the back, ribs or hips), easy bruising and unusual bleeding, weight loss and weak bones.
The illness also causes other health problems which present their own symptoms.
It is often accompanied by anaemia, causing weakness, tiredness or shortness of breath, and a thickening of the blood leading to blurred vision and dizziness.
It also causes hypercalcaemia, where the blood has unusually high levels of calcium, which can lead to extreme thirst, stomach pain, needing to pee frequently, constipation and confusion.
However, it myeloma does not usually cause a lump or tumour, so can be harder to detect than other cancers.
Who is most at risk?
Multiple myeloma is most common in men, people over 60 and black people.
There is no known cause for the disease, but there is a close link between it and another condition called monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS)
MGUS is an excess of a certain type of protein in the blood, which in itself is not dangeours.
However, around one in 100 people with MGUS develop multiple myeloma every year.
Treatment for multiple myeloma
There is currently no known cure for myeloma and, in most cases, patients do not recover from it.
Treatments can help to control the condition for several years, though.
This usually includes anti-myeloma medicines to destroy the cancer cells as well as treatments for the symptoms like bone pain and anaemia.
Bone marrow transplants can also be carried out in rare cases where they have the best chance of success.