Early diagnosis is the mainstay for the favorable prognosis of any life-threatening condition including cancer. For this, physicians and hospitals should have access to sophisticated diagnosis techniques. Various diagnostic techniques are available for diagnosing multiple myeloma.
What Blood Tests Indicate Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myelomas are the cancer of plasma cells that accumulate in the bone marrow. As this cancer is directly related to the blood, various blood tests are used to diagnose the presence of multiple myeloma. Following are the various blood test used-
M-Protein Test– The myeloma cells secrete antibody monoclonal immunoglobulin, which is also known as M protein. The quantity of this protein can be determined in both blood and urine and the method used is serum protein electrophoresis. This protein indicates the severity of the disease and response to treatment. (1)
Beta-2 Microglobulin And C-Reactive Protein– This is used to determine the prognosis of the disease as this is the marker for renal insufficiency. Patients with multiple myeloma and presence of Beta-2 Microglobulin have a poor prognosis.
Miscellaneous Tests– Other tests related to blood include uric acid levels, complete blood count and calcium levels for effectively diagnosing multiple myeloma.
As there is no characteristic feature of the multiple myeloma, the condition is difficult to diagnose at an early stage. The condition is most often diagnosed during routine testing or when the patient visits the doctor for some other disease. In some cases, the doctor may diagnose the condition on the basis of various physical parameters, while in most of the cases; conclusive diagnostic techniques are adopted for the diagnosis of multiple myeloma.
The diagnostic criteria used depends upon various factors such as physical symptoms, the age of the patient, reports from the earlier medical tests and suspected type of cancer. Diagnosis is all done evaluate the stage of the disease and also to differentiate between the aggressive and non-aggressive form of the disease. On the basis of critical information obtained through diagnosis, optimum treatment can be designed. Following are the various diagnostic methods available for multiple myeloma-
Urine Test– The 24-hour urine is collected to analyze the presence of protein, creatinine clearance, and Bence Jones protein. Presence of protein in the urine is an important marker of multiple myeloma. Further, creatinine clearance is an important measure in providing the functional efficacy of the kidney.
Blood Test– Blood test is one of the most important diagnostic techniques to evaluate the presence of multiple myeloma. The patient of multiple myeloma has altered the level of various immunoglobulins and is also characterized by the presence of various new chemicals in the blood leading to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma.
MRI– Magnetic Resonance Imaging is particularly preferred over normal scanning methods such as simple radiography or X-ray due to the reason as certain brain lesions are not identifiable with simple radiography while they are clearly shown in MRI. MRI is an important technique in identifying paraspinal involvement, cord compression and lesions of the lunar and thoracic regions.
PET– Although MRI can alone provide almost all the critical visualization required for conclusive results, studies have indicated that the use of Positron Emission Tomography along with MRI increases the clarity of visualizations manifold. The two systems can be used simultaneously to analyze the effect of the treatment as the treatment for multiple myeloma is quite expensive in some cases.
Aspiration And Biopsy– This technique includes the biopsy of the bone marrow and analyzing it in the laboratory. A small tissue of the bone marrow is taken through needle aspiration technique and analyses in the laboratory. The patient with multiple myeloma should have a large number of plasma cells with reduced proliferative activity. This indicates the presence of multiple myeloma. Further, the number of plasma cells also indicates the severity of the disease.
Blood tests that indicate multiple myeloma includes the presence of Beta-2 Microglobulin, C – reactive protein, and M-protein. Also, Kidney function tests and complete blood count also provide important information regarding the existence of the disease.