Andrea Rusbridge, medical negligence specialist Solicitor and Partner in our Northampton office, became aware of Multiple Myeloma when acting for a client who was not diagnosed promptly.
Sadly, this led to additional disability with the knock on effects of reduced working capacity and difficulties managing their home life and responsibilities. Here, Andrea explains the importance of raising awareness of Multiple Myeloma and its effects, during Multiple Myeloma Awareness Week.
What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple Myeloma (also known as Myeloma) is a cancer which affects the bone marrow (the spongy tissue in the centre of some of your bones). It often affects the spine, skull, and ribs and is frequently mistaken for other conditions.
The effect of the cancer is to weaken bones and suppress the immune system and there can be a range of symptoms. Because of this there is often a delay in diagnosis, as happened with my client.
Our experience of Multiple Myeloma
My client developed back pain and felt/heard a crack when moving normally. On examination by the GP there was nothing obvious and so they were treated with pain medication. After increasing symptoms and reduced mobility led to an MRI scan, my client was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon who referred them on to another surgeon. After some time they were assessed for operative treatment.
Eventually, as part of the pre operation process, a blood test was taken and the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma made. However, by this time my client had suffered irreparable damage and, whilst they received treatment for Multiple Myeloma and the damage to their spine, they were in a much worse condition than they should have been had they been diagnosed earlier.
The condition is diagnosed very easily with a blood test. There is treatment which can control the deterioration, although no cure. Had my client been diagnosed sooner they would have avoided some of the collapse of their spine and the associated disability.
Multiple Myeloma Week
The role of awareness week is to heighten suspicion of this easily diagnosed condition and to allow the treatment available to control the deterioration. Sadly there is no cure today, but there is research ongoing. Myeloma UK are trying to challenge the current practice to increase earlier diagnosis and are encouraging the development of one referral route and the use of rapid diagnostic centres.