Many tests are used to assess proteins and other substances in the blood of multiple myeloma patients. These tests measure levels of blood calcium, total protein, serum beta-2 microglobulin, LDH, C-reactive protein, and blood glucose. They are used to monitor the disease and its potential complications.

These tests are part of a basic medical exam and are also very useful in diagnosing and monitoring myeloma.


Increased bone breakdown causes a higher than normal level of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia). Hypercalcemia can cause kidney damage (see Tests to Assess Kidney Function). Bone-modifying agents can be used as treatment for hypercalcemia

Total Protein Test Measure

Total blood protein testing measures all the proteins in the blood, which fall into one of two types, albumin and globulin.

What Is Albumin?

Albumin is the most abundant protein in the blood. When myeloma is active, levels of a chemical messenger in the blood called interleukin-6 (IL-6) are elevated. IL-6 blocks production of albumin, so low albumin levels can signal more aggressive myeloma.

What Is Globulin?

There are three types of globulins in the blood: alpha, beta, and gamma. Myeloma protein (M-protein) is a gamma globulin. If the myeloma cells are making M-protein, the amount of globulin in the blood rises, which results in elevated total protein. At diagnosis, elevated total protein should prompt your doctor to order more specific tests to see if you have myeloma.

Serum Beta-2 Microglobulin (sβ2M)


0.70–1.80 mg/L 

The serum β2M level indicates the amount and activity of the underlying myeloma. It is one of two blood proteins (the other is serum albumin) included in the revised International Staging System (R-ISS) to help understand the potential for the aggressiveness of newly diagnosed myeloma. In addition to its function in staging myeloma during the initial work-up, β2M can be used to evaluate disease activity and to monitor response to treatment. A serum β2M of < 3.5 mg/L is considered stage I; between 3.5 mg/L and 5.5 mg/L is stage II; and ≥ 5.5 mg/L is stage III. 

Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)


105–333 IU/L (international units per liter) 

High LDH can be a sign of aggressive disease and is therefore included in the R-ISS to help determine prognosis. LDH is an enzyme found in almost all body tissues. It plays an important role in cellular respiration, the process by which glucose (a sugar) is converted into usable energy for cells. Although LDH is abundant in tissue cells, blood levels of the enzyme are normally low. However, when tissues are damaged by injury or disease, they release more LDH into the bloodstream. LDH rises when myeloma is actively growing. 

C-reactive protein


≤ 8.0 mg/L (in healthy individuals, < 8 mg/L) 

CRP is an indicator of inflammation, and its measurement is used routinely in assessing heart disease and autoimmune diseases. CRP is produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream within a few hours after tissue injury, the start of an infection, or another cause of inflammation. Increased levels of CRP indicate active myeloma. 

Blood Glucose or Blood Sugar Test


70–100 mg/dL (fasting blood glucose level) 

The level of glucose is a major source of energy for most cells. It should be established before you start treatment. In particular, it should be monitored carefully if you are taking dexamethasone or another glucocorticosteroid. 


Electrolytes are substances that conduct electricity in the body. Examples of electrolytes include sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate. Electrolytes do the following:

  • regulate nerve function
  • regulate muscle function
  • hydrate the body
  • balance blood acidity and pressure
  • rebuild damaged tissue

Your healthcare professional will evaluate your electrolyte levels to see if they are off. Electrolyte imbalances may cause kidney disease.

What's Next?

Certain tests measure the monoclonal protein that myeloma cells secrete into the blood and/or urine. Learn more about how these tests assess the amount and activity of myeloma.


The International Myeloma Foundation medical and editorial content team

Comprised of leading medical researchers, hematologists, oncologists, oncology-certified nurses, medical editors, and medical journalists, our team has extensive knowledge of the multiple myeloma treatment and care landscape. Additionally, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie reviews and approves all medical content on this website. 

Last Medical Content Review: May 10, 2024

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