Tests to assess blood cells
Blood tests are routinely done at the time of diagnosis and throughout the disease course. These tests assess:
- response to treatment
- side effects
- signs of possible relapse
The complete blood count (CBC) assesses
- the presence or absence of low red blood cell count (anemia)
- low white blood cell count (leukopenia)
- low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
The CBC is both a basic test done during every medical check-up. It is one of the most important blood tests used for diagnosing and monitoring myeloma patients.
A routine blood test may identify a case of
- multiple myeloma
- smoldering multiple myeloma
- monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
The CBC quantifies all the cells that make up the solid parts of blood. The liquid part of blood that is colorless is called serum. Blood cells are suspended in the serum.
Red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and blood-clotting cells called platelets (PLT) are all made in the bone marrow. Myeloma grows in the bone marrow. Both multiple myeloma itself, as well as its many treatments, affect the ability of new blood cells to grow in the bone marrow.
Your healthcare team will observe your CBC throughout your treatment course. They will ensure your blood cell counts are not decreasing to dangerous levels. Sometimes patients must have a CBC every week to make sure that a particular treatment is not taking a toll on one or more of the blood cell types.
CBC results are broken down into the major headings of
- PLT, with subcategories under RBC and WBC.
Learn more about these blood cell types and subcategories, visit the Understanding Your Test Results booklet, pp. 7–11.
The International Myeloma Foundation medical and editorial content team
Comprised of leading medical researchers, hematologist, 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