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Multiple Myeloma Screening

Screening for Multiple Myeloma?

Screening for Multiple myeloma is not routinely performed, mainly because the cancer is rare, currently not considered curable although treatment has improved dramatically, and a value to early detection has not been proven.

If multiple myeloma is suspected in an individual who is experiencing frequent infections, fatigue, anemia, bone pain or has laboratory findings such as low kidney function, high calcium or high total protein, testing may be recommended.

Several baseline tests that can be used for multiple myeloma screening, including:

Blood and urine tests for monoclonal proteins. These are the useless antibodies or antibody fragments that come from the clone of myeloma cells. Monoclonal proteins can usually be detected in the blood and/or urine of multiple myeloma patients. Because the monoclonal protein is sometimes found in patients who do not have multiple myeloma, further testing will be required if it is identified in order to reach a definitive diagnosis.

Imaging. In many patients with multiple myeloma, routine X-rays show distinct areas of bone erosion, general bone thinning and/or fractures, usually in the vertebrae, ribs, pelvic bones and thigh and upper arm bones.

Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. A small sample of bone marrow is collected from a patient’s pelvis in the back for laboratory analysis to determine whether the bone marrow cells are comprised of an excessive amount of plasma cells.

Genetic and chromosomal tests. Specialized tests can reveal genetic or chromosomal abnormalities of the plasma cells that are usually associated with multiple myeloma.

Source: “Multiple Myeloma Screening” from the Moffitt Cancer Center.

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