Seeking a multiple myeloma diagnosis can often be difficult because many patients won’t experience any symptoms and therefore don’t know they might have this type of cancer. In fact, patients are often unaware of the condition until they visit a physician for a routine blood or urine test, since these tests are able to identify the harmful proteins that are produced by multiple myeloma cells.
There are several other testing options that may be used to make a multiple myeloma diagnosis, including:
- Imaging tests – There are a variety of imaging tests, such as X-ray, MRI, CT and PET scans, that can provide physicians with images of internal structures, so they can identify any bone problems that may be related to multiple myeloma.
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy – A physician will take samples from both the solid and liquid parts of a patient’s bone marrow and examine them for multiple myeloma cells. Other methods for doing this include a lumbar puncture.
- Molecular diagnostics – In some cases, a physician will run additional laboratory tests on any tumors found in a patient’s bone marrow in order to identify specific genes or proteins that can help guide physicians in creating an individualized treatment plan.
- Other diagnostic techniques – Moffitt’s physicians also utilize other advanced techniques such as cytogenetics, fluorescent in situ hybridization, flow cytometry and specialized laboratory testing, including serum-free light chains, serum and urine protein electrophoresis and immunofixation.
The Malignant Hematology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center includes physicians who specialize in the evaluation and treatment of multiple myeloma and other types of plasma cell cancer. These specialists meet in a weekly tumor board to evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis and develop an individualized treatment plan. This plan may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or bone marrow transplants, in addition to supportive care options.
We see a variety of patients seeking a multiple myeloma diagnosis, including patients searching for an initial diagnosis, looking for a second opinion or exploring other treatment options. For more information about our diagnostic testing or other services, contact Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our online patient registration form. No referral is necessary.