Multiple Myeloma - Diagnosis

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Describe the tests and exams that led to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma.

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How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?

In many patients, multiple myeloma is first suspected when a routine blood test shows unusual blood cells. The doctor will do a history and physical exam, looking for signs and symptoms (see above) of multiple myeloma. If multiple myeloma is suspected, several studies help confirm the diagnosis. They include a bone marrow biopsy or needle aspiration of cells to be viewed by a pathologist and to be studied for their genetic function (metaphase cytogenetics) and measurements by several methods that determine levels and types of monoclonal proteins produced. In 2011, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommended that a serum free light chain assay and fluorescence in situ hybridization test be used to further identify multiple myeloma in patients. Most clinicians will use X-ray studies to identify skeletal lesions and MRI for spinal, paraspinal, or spinal cord lesions in multiple myeloma. In addition, several routine tests (CBC, sedimentation rate, BUN, C-reactive protein, and others) are also done.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Hansd, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: February 06

My doctor suspects multiple myeloma from blood tests done recently. For 4 days I had been tired when walking and then I fainted in the bathroom, was taken to emergency and received 3 bags of blood. This brought the hemoglobin level up from 55 to 91. Further tests are now being done (blood, urine and skeletal X-ray to determine what the further treatment should be. I am 90 years old and consider myself healthy (never had any major disease). For 30 years I have worked out at a fitness center and walk 2 times for 20 minutes each day. I am interested in knowing what further to expect.

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Comment from: BO, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: June 04

My husband had been working on our daughter"s truck, changing and rotating tires. He had a difficult time working some of the bolts loose. The next week, he began having lower back pain that became increasingly worse, to the point he was having difficulty walking. After a trip to urgent care where they did an x-ray and suggested that he see a chiropractor, he followed up with an orthopedist instead. After a month of unsuccessful treatment with a dose pack, unsuccessful physical therapy and increasing pain, they prepared to do an epidural steroid injection (ESI) with and MRI. That"s when they found the tumor on his T10 that was "highly suggestive" for multiple myeloma. He was hospitalized the next day and had the CT, bone scan, blood work and bone marrow biopsy for the definitive diagnosis.

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