Multiple myeloma tests are diverse and complex. Tests are used throughout the course of your disease — for initial diagnosis, discovering the type of myeloma you have, staging the disease, and for monitoring your response to treatment.
What Can Tests Tell Us?
Tests results are the most important tools that your doctor will use to:
- Diagnose monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM), and active myeloma.
- Assess the risk of progression of MGUS or SMM to active myeloma.
- Assess the stage of your myeloma.
- Assess your genetic risk factors.
- Evaluate your response to treatment.
- Monitor remission periods and determine when to start treatment again.
- Monitor for disease-related and treatment-related side effects.
Tests for multiple myeloma patients fall into three major categories:
No Single Test Tells the Whole Story
Each test can be thought of as a piece of the puzzle. Only when the pieces are assembled together can a patient and their doctor make their proper conclusions and decisions. Myeloma is unique in each patient; therefore, it’s important not to compare your test results with other myeloma patients.
We encourage you to discuss all your test results with the doctor who is treating you. Your doctor will be able to put all the puzzle pieces together to put your results in context. The patterns of results viewed over time are more meaningful than any single test itself.
Save Copies of Your Test and Lab Results
It is important to request, print out, and save copies of your results. Bring a summary of results with you when you go to all oncology visits or when getting a second opinion.
Variables That May Affect Your Test Results
Be aware that your lab results can be affected by many variables, including:
- other medications and supplements that you may be taking
- the amount and type of fluids you have consumed
- whether you have eaten before the test
Before undergoing tests, consult with your doctor to make sure there are no special instructions about taking certain medications, supplements, food, or drinks.
Blood tests are routinely done at the time of diagnosis and throughout the disease course. These tests assess response to treatment, side effects, and signs of possible relapse.
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 Review: August 1, 2019