Myeloma

Myeloma Diagnosis and Staging

New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

Prompt diagnosis of myeloma, followed by accurate staging – identifying how far the disease has progressed – are key to developing an effective treatment plan.

Because myeloma doesn’t always produce symptoms, it’s sometimes diagnosed when patients undergo blood tests for another suspected condition. In other cases, a patient’s doctor might order a variety of diagnostic tests if he or she suspects myeloma. 

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, we use the latest in advanced imaging, laboratory analysis, and genetic testing to ensure a timely and accurate diagnosis of myeloma. 

Our specialized pathologists, called hematopathologists, are uniquely trained to identify and classify different types of myeloma.

Diagnostic Tests for Myeloma

After a physical exam and a discussion of a patient’s medical history and symptoms, we usually order testing. These tests can include:

  • Blood or urine analysis to confirm the presence of amyloid (myeloma’s hallmark protein), as well as other proteins, antibodies, and blood components
  • X-rays to detect bone lesions, which are common among patients with myeloma
  • Bone marrow biopsy to detect an excess of cancerous plasma cells in the bone marrow
  • Tissue biopsy to look for a buildup of amyloid
  • Imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) to visualize tumors and guide biopsies
  • Whole-skeletal MRI in patients who are at early stages of myeloma, to locate subtle bone lesions
  • Specialized DNA and chromosomal testing to help guide treatment decisions 

Staging

Once myeloma has been diagnosed, we’ll classify it by stage to indicate how much disease is present and whether it has affected the bones or organs. This information helps us determine the best treatment strategy to meet the needs of each patient.