Multiple Myeloma

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Do I Have Multiple Myeloma – Diagnosis and Workup

Dr. Ravi Vij Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University

There are several diagnostic tests that are done if myeloma is suspected.

  • Blood tests: vials of blood are drawn to identify signs of anemia, a condition marked by a lack of healthy blood cells
  • Kidney analysis: identifies abnormal kidney function resulting from the processing of abnormal proteins released from myeloma cells into the blood
  • Bone marrow biopsy: analyzes the genetics and makeup of the cancer to determine the level of risk

Dr, Ravi Vij, medical Oncologist at Washington University, St. Louis says the blood tests are done because “in multiple myeloma one of the cardinal manifestations is a low hemoglobin or low red cell count, and this is due to the fact that the bone marrow is not producing blood cells in adequate numbers.” And Vij says kidney tests are necessary. “We look at the kidney function, especially the creatinine, which is a measure of how well the kidneys are performing, because, unfortunately in patients with myeloma, kidney involvement is common.” The bone marrow biopsy, in addition to analyzing the cancer “will tell us how many of these abnormal plasma cells are in the bone marrow”, Vij says.

There are also several imaging tests conducted to see if there are bone fractures or bone lesions including:

  • Skeletal survey which is a series of X-rays
  • PET scan
  • MRI scan

Additional testing beyond these may be necessary depending on the specific patient.

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Dr. Ravi Vij is a Medical Oncologist at Washington University. Read More