Diagnosis and Prognosis of Multiple Myeloma
by Michael Jubinville, MPH
In some people, a problem is found during a routine blood or urine test. Others may see their doctor when symptoms appear. The most common are bone pain, or feeling weak or tired. The doctor may think there is a blood disorder based on a physical exam, symptoms, and health past.
Testing for Multiple Myeloma
If your doctor thinks you have a blood disorder, tests will help find a cause. These may include:
Blood and Urine Tests
Blood tests will show changes in blood cells. Tests may include:
Urine tests may also help identify abnormal levels of certain proteins or calcium levels.
Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy
A bone marrow aspiration takes a sample of bone marrow through a needle. It is often taken from the hip bone. A piece of bone may also be removed for biopsy. The samples are looked at in a lab. The tests will check on blood cells counts and the overall health of the bone marrow.
A series of x-rays of all the body's bones will check for broken bones or other problems such as holes in the bones. The skull, spine, pelvic area, ribs, and the long bones of the arms and legs are tested.
Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma
MM diagnosis is based on the results of different tests that may show:
Staging of Multiple Myeloma
Results from tests above along with new tests will show details about MM. This will help make a treatment plan.
Blood and tissue tests are used to find out how much cancer is in the body.
Imaging tests check organs and tissues for cancer. They can also see the extent of bone problems. Tests may involve a CT scan or MRI scan.
Biopsies look for cancer or amyloid deposits in certain places. Biopsies can be:
Stages of Multiple Myeloma
MM is staged from 1 to 3. Stage 1 is linked to the least amount of cancer, while stage 3 is linked to the most.
There are different staging systems. The stage is mainly based on the amount of:
For treatment purposes, MM may also be grouped as:
Diagnosis. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: https://www.lls.org/disease-information/myeloma/diagnosis. Accessed May 6, 2019.
Michels TC, Petersen KE. Multiple myeloma: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2017;95(6):373-383A.
Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma. Updated March 29, 2019. Accessed May 6, 2019.
Multiple myeloma stages. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/detection-diagnosis-staging/staging.html. Updated February 28, 2018. Accessed May 6, 2019.
Myeloma staging. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: https://www.lls.org/disease-information/myeloma/diagnosis/myeloma-staging. Accessed May 6, 2019.
Stages of plasma cell neoplasms. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq#_22. Updated April 9, 2019. Accessed May 6, 2019.
Tests to find multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/detection-diagnosis-staging/testing.html. Updated February 28, 2018. Accessed May 6, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/6/2019
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