Every year, the month of March is observed as “Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month” in the United States. Spearheaded by the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), the campaign aims to generate widespread public awareness about multiple myeloma – a specific type of blood cancer that affects plasma cells. The campaign is a perfect platform to spread awareness about multiple myeloma at an early stage – as early detection can help prevent some of the most debilitating effects of cancer. In most cases, majority of patients are unfamiliar with this type of cancer until they are diagnosed with the disease. There is no specific cure for multiple myeloma. However, there are certain treatments that help ease the pain, reduce complications and slow the progression of the disease in the long run. Treatment modalities are generally administered if the disease is getting worse. Medical billing and coding for different types of multiple myeloma can be challenging. For accurate clinical documentation of this type of blood cancer, most specialists outsource medical billing and coding tasks to professional billing and coding companies.

The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that more than 32,270 people living in the United States were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2020 and that 12,830 died of the disease. Multiple myelomas are of two different types – which are categorized by the effect on their body. The primary one is indolent myeloma which develops slowly and causes no noticeable symptoms. Solitary plasmacytoma is another type that causes a tumor to form, typically in bone. The exact cause of multiple myeloma is unknown. However, the condition occurs when unhealthy or abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow. The rapid reproduction of malignant, or cancerous, myeloma cells eventually outweighs the production of healthy cells in the bone marrow which in turn results in severe complications.

The 2021 awareness campaign is the perfect platform to encourage individuals and other healthcare groups to take strong actions that positively impact the myeloma community. With this observance, healthcare providers have an opportunity to start a conversation with the patients and raise awareness about the specific symptoms and risk factors associated with the condition. It also helps build a bridge to increase critical funding for research. The signs and symptoms associated with this condition may vary from person to person, depending on the specific type of myeloma. Initially, patients with this condition do not experience any specific symptoms. However, as the condition advances, people may experience symptoms like – high levels of calcium in the blood, bone damage, renal failure, anemia, weakness or numbness (especially in the legs), unintentional weight loss, repeated infections and problems with urination. However, certain factors like – age above 50 years, obesity, overexposure to radiation and a history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS – a condition that causes plasma cells to produce M proteins) can potentially increase the risk of developing multiple myeloma.

Generally, physicians detect multiple myeloma before any specific symptoms occur. This is possible by conducting a blood or urine test for analyzing some other conditions. Imaging tests like – X-ray, MRI, CT or positron emission tomography (PET) may be recommended to detect bone problems associated with multiple myeloma. In certain other cases, specialized tests like bone marrow sample testing and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) will also be done to determine the type and stage of cancer. Treatment modalities for this condition will be recommended only based on the symptoms and severity of the condition. Common treatment modalities include – medications, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, corticosteroids, biological therapy and targeted therapy. The diagnosis and other treatment procedures administered by physicians must be correctly documented using the right medical codes. Medical billing services provided by professional medical billing companies ensure that the correct medical codes are reported on the claims. ICD -10 diagnosis codes for multiple myeloma include –

  • C90.0 Multiple myeloma
  • C90.00 Multiple myeloma, not having achieved remission
  • C90.01 Multiple myeloma, in remission
  • C90.02 Multiple myeloma, in relapse

Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month was first observed in the United States (US) as part of the National Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma Awareness Month in September 2005. It was in the year 2009, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) first recognized March as Myeloma Awareness Month, later renaming its campaign – Myeloma Action Month. As part of the 2021 observance, the IMF invites people to join the myeloma community and nurture their own resilience. It encourages people to take small actions in their lives to enhance well-being, fortify resilience, and improve the lives of those in the myeloma community.

The 2021 observance particularly focuses on the theme of resilience, as the world continues to cope with the stress of the pandemic. You can join the “31 Days of Resilience”. The theme stresses the fact that individual resilience can in turn build a resilient myeloma community. This March, IMF focuses on small new self-care actions people can do each day of the month to bolster their resilience. For that reason, visitors to the Myeloma Action Month website will be able to find shareable graphics for their social media channels. These graphics include 31 Facts-or one myeloma fact to share for each day of the month, as well as 31 Ways to take tangible actions to nurture your resilience. These include – taking a walk, catching up with a family member, or watching the sunrise.

People can get involved in the campaign in different ways. They can share a photo with a caption that describes how that photo represents resilience and post those pictures on different social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. The IMF is asking individuals and groups to spread myeloma awareness on a global scale by using the hashtag #IAMRESILIENT2021, #MyelomaWarrior, and/or #MyelomaACTIONMonth on all social media channels. When using these hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, these posts will stream to the IMF’s digital “Wall of Resilience” at the Myeloma Action Month website http://mam.myeloma.org.