Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis

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Multiple myeloma diagnosis is a helpful tool to detect a rare form of blood related cancer. Multiple myeloma is caused due to rapid and uncontrolled growth of plasma cells. The causes of multiple myeloma are yet to be ascertained. Also there is no complete cure for multiple myeloma. Treatment therefore targets it management rather than cure. Early diagnosis of multiple myeloma can certainly help manage this disease easily. Multiple myeloma is diagnosed in patients usually above the age of 65 and is rare in youths. Diagnostic tests like blood sample examination, urine tests, bone examination, x-ray and MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) are commonly used to diagnose multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma usually shows up with symptoms such as elevated levels of calcium, impaired digestive system, weakness, anemia, weight loss and bone damage or fractures. If you are above 65 and observe such symptom consult your doctor. Based on the symptoms, your doctor will advise a battery of tests to diagnose multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma diagnosis usually starts with blood and urine tests. Blood and urine tests: In multiple myeloma, plasma cells develop rapidly and produce proteins or antibodies. Presence of these proteins in your blood can help diagnose multiple myeloma. These proteins are known as paraproteins, a type of monoclonal proteins or simply M-proteins.

Urine sample tests are carried out to detect Bence Jones protein, a type of urinary paraprotein. Urine samples are taken at regular intervals over 24 hours. These proteins are known to impair kidney function. If initial blood and urine tests show elevated levels of proteins, doctors advise protein electrophoresis tests to diagnose the types of proteins present and their number.

Paraproteins electrophoresis test is a type of blood and urine sample test. Blood tests also look for presence of variety of immunoglobulins or antibodies and proteins such as IgG, IgA and IgM commonly found in multiple myeloma. They can also show presence of the rarer IgD and IgE class of proteins.

Common types of electrophoresis tests are:

  1. SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (Also known as PAGE, or SDS-electrophoresis) and free flow electrophoresis
  2. Electro focusing, affinity electrophoresis and isotachophoresis
  3. Counter electrophoresis, Immunoelectrophoresis and capillary electrophoresis

Bone marrow examination: Bone biopsy is surgical procedure. A sample of the bone marrow is taken out to detect the number of plasma cells. It also shows bone damage and bone lesions. Bone marrow is usually taken from the hips.

X-Ray and MRI Scan: X-Rays and MRI scans are especially useful to show bone damage. They can show lytic or rounded area of the bone due to bone damage. They can also show bone lesions, bone fractures and unusual bone thinning.

Calcium and serum creatinine level tests: These are types of blood test. Bone erosion causes elevated levels of calcium in the body. This affects kidney function. Serum creatinine level is increased due to renal impairment. These tests look for such high levels of calcium and serum creatinine. Presence of higher levels of albumin and Tamm-Horsfall protein points to multiple myeloma.

Genetic and chromosomal analysis: Newer multiple myeloma diagnosis tests include genetic and chromosomal profiling. Often these tests look for a class of glycoproteins such as CD38, CD56 and CD138.Cytogenetic tests such as FISH (Fluorescence in situ hybridization) and Virtual Karyotype look for DNA and chromosomal abnormalities.

Plasma cell labeling index test: The plasma cell labeling index (PCLI) is used detect the rate of growth and abnormal division of the plasma cells. Lower PCLI means disease is progressing slowly. PCLI is also useful for prognosis of multiple myeloma.

Other diagnostic tests: Tests such as complete blood count help in diagnosing multiple myeloma warnings which include anemia and weight loss. Barium sallow tests help in determining presence of internal damage and tumors in organs such as kidneys and stomach.

Thus multiple myeloma diagnosis helps in generating a clear picture of the disease. Early diagnosis can certainly help you manage the disease in an effective way. Remember to go for regular checkups if you are above 65 years of age.

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