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Multiple Myeloma Screening

Multiple myeloma screening is not routinely performed, mainly because there are no methods available that have proven to be reliable enough to be considered cost effective for identifying the condition before symptoms develop. If multiple myeloma is suspected in an individual who is experiencing frequent infections, fatigue, anemia, bone pain or other possible symptoms, testing may be recommended.

In that regard, there are several baseline tests that can be used for multiple myeloma screening, including:

  • Blood and urine tests for monoclonal protein — This abnormal protein is produced by malignant plasma cells and is usually detected in the blood or urine of multiple myeloma patients. The monoclonal protein serves no useful function and sometimes has negative effects, such as blood thickening, kidney damage and abnormal bleeding. 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 the majority of 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. Other imaging tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET), can also be helpful for diagnostic purposes.
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy — A small sample of bone marrow is collected from a patient’s hip for laboratory analysis to determine whether the bone marrow cells are comprised of an excessive amount of plasma cells (generally more than 10 percent).
  • Genetic and chromosomal tests — Specialized tests can reveal genetic or chromosomal abnormalities of the plasma cells that are usually associated with multiple myeloma. The results can also be useful for predicting a patient’s prognosis and response to treatment.

The physicians and researchers in the Malignant Hematology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center are working to develop new and better multiple myeloma screening techniques in order to detect and address the condition as early as possible. Our multispecialty team includes surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, all of whom have years of experience focused specifically on diagnosing and treating multiple myeloma. By working together, these experts are continually gaining ground in further understanding the condition, with a goal of one day defeating it.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about multiple myeloma screening tests, contact Moffitt by calling 1-888-663-3488 or using our convenient new patient registration form. No referrals are necessary.