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Colin Powell had been treated for blood cancer in addition to COVID aide says

Fox News contributor Marty Makary joins ‘Special Report’ to discuss the tragic death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died Monday at age 84 due to complications of COVID-19, had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infections and to respond well to vaccines.

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The cancer attacks plasma cells: white blood cells that make antibodies to protect from infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The cells grow too much in myeloma, lyrical jazz crowding out normal cells in the bone marrow that produce platelets and red and white blood cells.

Multiple myeloma is the most common type of plasma cell tumor and develops in the bone marrow before potentially spreading throughout the body.

In this Feb. 15, 2001 file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell looks on as President Bush addresses State Department employees at the State Department in Washington.
(AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert)

Myeloma may be discovered when a blood or urine test is done for another condition and a higher than normal level of protein is found. 

More advanced symptoms include bone pain in the back or ribs, bones that break easily, fever for no known reason, frequent infections, bruising or bleeding easily, weakness of the arms or legs, tiredness and trouble breathing.

The Mayo Clinic says nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, mental fogginess, weight loss, excessive thirst and weakness or numbness in the legs are also signs of multiple myeloma.

The clinic said complications of multiple myeloma include reduced kidney function, bone problems and anemia.

Kathy Giusti, founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, told The Associated Press that Powell had “connected with every patient, caregiver and doctor in the room” when he spoke to the advocacy group about his diagnosis in 2019.

In a statement, she said that in addition to receiving vaccinations, cancer patients should consider other precautions like mask-wearing and avoiding crowds. Powell’s family said he had been fully vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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