Multiple Myeloma (cont.)
Common symptoms of multiple myeloma include:
Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. Other health problems may also cause these symptoms. Only a doctor can tell for sure. Anyone with these symptoms should tell the doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
Doctors sometimes find multiple myeloma after a routine blood test. More
often, doctors suspect multiple myeloma after an x-ray for a broken bone.
Usually though, patients go to the doctor because they are having other
To find out whether such problems are from multiple myeloma or some other
condition, your doctor may ask about your personal and family medical history
and do a physical exam. Your doctor also may order some of the following tests:
- Blood tests: The lab does several blood tests:
- Multiple myeloma causes high
levels of proteins in the blood. The lab checks the levels of many different
proteins, including M protein and other immunoglobulins (antibodies), albumin,
- Myeloma may also cause anemia and low levels of white
blood cells and platelets. The lab does a complete blood count to check the
number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
- The lab also checks
for high levels of calcium.
- To see how well the kidneys are working, the lab
tests for creatinine.
- Urine tests: The lab checks for Bence Jones protein, a type of M protein, in
urine. The lab measures the amount of Bence Jones protein in urine collected
over a 24-hour period. If the lab finds a high level of Bence Jones protein in
your urine sample, doctors will monitor your kidneys. Bence Jones protein can
clog the kidneys and damage them.
- X-rays: You may have x-rays to check for broken or thinning bones. An x-ray of
your whole body can be done to see how many bones could be damaged by the
- Biopsy: Your doctor removes tissue to look for cancer cells. A biopsy is the
only sure way to know whether myeloma cells are in your bone marrow. Before the
sample is taken, local anesthesia is used to numb the area. This helps reduce
the pain. Your doctor removes some bone marrow from your hip bone or another
large bone. A pathologist uses a microscope to check the tissue for myeloma
There are two ways your doctor can obtain bone marrow. Some people will
have both procedures during the same visit:
- Bone marrow aspiration: The doctor uses a thick, hollow needle to remove
samples of bone marrow.
- Bone marrow biopsy: The doctor uses a very thick, hollow
needle to remove a small piece of bone and bone marrow.
You may want to ask your doctor these questions before having a bone marrow
aspiration or biopsy:
- Will you remove the sample of bone marrow from the hip or from another bone?
- Where will I go for this procedure?
- Will I have to do anything to prepare for it?
- How long will it take? Will I be awake?
- Will it hurt? What will you do to prevent or control the pain?
- Are there any risks? What are the chances of infection or bleeding after the
- How long will it take me to recover?
- How soon will I know the results? Who will explain them to me?
- If I do have multiple myeloma, who will talk to me about next steps? When?
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Multiple Myeloma - Symptoms
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Multiple Myeloma - Diagnosis
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Multiple Myeloma - Treatment
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Multiple Myeloma - Follow-up care
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