The diagnosis of multiple myeloma is often made incidentally during routine blood tests for other conditions. For example, the existence of anemia and a high serum protein may suggest further testing.
A number of laboratory tests and medical procedures are performed to help confirm a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Many of these tests also are used to assess the extent of the disease as well as to plan and monitor treatment.
- X-rays — All patients need to have X-rays to see if any bones are damaged or broken.
- Blood and Urine Tests — Samples of the patient's blood and urine are checked to see whether they contain high levels of antibody proteins, called M proteins.
- Bone Marrow Aspiration and/or Biopsy — The doctor also will perform these procedures to check for myeloma cells.
During an aspiration, the doctor inserts a needle into the hip or breast bone to withdraw a sample of fluid and cells from the bone marrow. During a biopsy, the doctor uses a needle to remove a sample of solid tissue from the marrow. A pathologist then examines the samples under a microscope to determine whether myeloma cells are present.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.