We often hear of the term C.R.A.B. in myeloma, but what does that mean? CRAB is the acronym for the most common symptoms of multiple myeloma:
C = Calcium (elevated) - hypercalcemia: Myeloma attacks bone, and as bone is broken down, it causes high calcium levels in the blood. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including excessive thirst, nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, and confusion.
R = Renal failure: The most common cause of kidney failure in the myeloma patient is due to the proteins secreted by the malignant cells. Myeloma cells produce abnormally high levels of abnormal proteins in the blood. Depending on the size of these proteins, they may be excreted through the kidneys, which can cause damage. Additionally, increased bone loss leads to hypercalcemia, which can also contribute to kidney failure.
A = Anemia: Anemia caused by myeloma results from the replacement of normal bone marrow by infiltrating tumor cells and inhibition of normal red blood cell production. Anemia can cause exhaustion, weakness, mental fatigue and forgetfulness.
B = Bone disease (bone pain): Bone pain affects a majority of myeloma patients, usually in the spine and ribs. Bone fractures and spinal cord compression is also common. The breakdown of bone also leads to the release of calcium in the blood, leading to hypercalcemia. It is common for bone problems to cause pain, breaks, and spinal problems.
about the author
Lizzy Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in 2012 at age 44. Within days, she left her job, ended her marriage, moved, and entered treatment. "To the extent I'm able, I want to prove that despite life's biggest challenges, it is possible to survive and come out stronger than ever," she says.