Screening tests help find cancer at its earliest stage when the chances for successful treatment are greatest. Though there are no standardized screening tests to detect multiple myeloma, the specialists and subspecialists at the OSUCCC – James use the latest technologies and the most accurate, state-of-the-art equipment and procedures to test for and diagnose the disease.

Multiple Myeloma Tests

Doctors sometimes find multiple myeloma after a blood test, or they may detect it after an X-ray of a broken bone. Patients with multiple myeloma often first visit a doctor after experiencing symptoms for another ailment.

To test for multiple myeloma, the OSUCCC – James experts may conduct a variety of tests, including:

Physical Exam

During a physical exam, your OSUCCC – James specialists will check general signs of health, look for any unusual signs of disease, and will discuss health habits and past illnesses.

Specialized Blood & Urine Tests

Samples of blood or urine can be used to detect abnormal antibodies and changes in calcium levels caused by multiple myeloma. If a patient’s blood shows high calcium or antibody levels, the specialists may order more specific tests to confirm a diagnosis. Those tests measure the amount of abnormal antibodies, also known as immunoglobins.

Bone Marrow Aspiration & Biopsy

During a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, the OSUCCC – James experts will insert a hollow needle into a part of the hip bone to remove a small sample of liquid bone marrow.

For a bone marrow biopsy, a hollow needle is inserted into a part of hip bone to collect a small sample of the marrow.

These tests show the experts the number of plasma cells in the bone marrow (normal bone marrow has less than 5 percent plasma cells; patients with multiple myeloma often have 10 percent or more abnormal plasma cells in their marrow).

Cytogenetic Analysis

Cytogenetic studies look for any abnormal chromosomes (where genes are contained) that can lead to multiple myeloma. Identifying certain abnormalities enables your OSUCCC – James team of experts to design the best kind of individualized treatment just for you. Fluorescent in situ hybridization, or FISH, is one kind of cytogenetic analysis that studies chromosomes for certain changes.

Diagnostic medical imaging exams might include the following:

Bone X-rays

Including a skeletal bone survey of all the larger bones in the body

Computed Tomography (CT) Scanning

Uses X-rays to capture detailed, cross-sectional images of the body.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans

Uses powerful magnets to capture high-resolution images.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanning

A nuclear medicine technology that finds spots of cancer activity in the body. The specialists inject a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) into a vein, then use a specialized scanner to take detailed pictures of where the glucose gathers in high amounts. Cancer cells absorb more glucose than normal cells.

Multiple Myeloma Staging

There is no such thing as routine cancer, and multiple myeloma behaves differently in each person.

Staging is just one of many ways the OSUCCC – James experts use to determine a patient’s prognosis.

By using staging information (combined with other information such as genetic markers and individualized test results), the OSUCCC – James specialists and subspecialists can plan the most targeted, accurate way to treat your specific disease. This, in turn, can mean improved outcomes, faster responses to treatment and fewer side effects.

Multiple Myeloma Stages

Using the International Staging System, multiple myeloma stages are based on the levels of two proteins: beta-2-microglobulin and albumin.

Stage I

The beta-2-microglobulin level is lower than 3.5 mg/L, and the albumin level is normal.

Stage II

The beta-2-microglobulin level is lower than 3.5 mg/L, and the albumin level is below normal; or the beta-2-microglobulin level is between 3.5 mg/L and 5.4 mg/L.

Stage III

The beta-2-microglobulin is 5.5 mg/L or higher.

(Source:National Cancer Institute)

If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a blood cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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Columbus, Ohio 43210

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