Myeloma Diagnosis and Staging
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