Multiple Myeloma Blood Tests
Multiple myeloma blood tests involve the laboratory analysis of blood, which may reveal the M proteins produced by myeloma cells. Myeloma blood testing also looks for an abnormal protein produced by myeloma cells called beta-2-microglobulin. If these proteins are detected in blood, it gives doctors clues about the myeloma’s aggressiveness. Myeloma blood tests also examine your kidney function, blood cell counts, calcium levels and uric acid levels. Multiple myeloma testing is incredibly important for not only diagnosing the disease, but also for planning and monitoring treatment.
How is multiple myeloma detected?
Multiple myeloma is a difficult disease to diagnose early. Many patients don’t show any symptoms until their disease has reached a more advanced stage. Myeloma symptoms can also appear to be caused by something else, such as a cold. Sometimes, the disease may be found in people without symptoms when a routine blood test shows elevated levels of M protein in the blood. Multiple myeloma without symptoms is called smoldering myeloma.
Complete blood count (CBC): CBCs measure the levels of certain cells within the blood, including red cells, white cells, or platelets. If myeloma cells take up too much of the bone marrow, certain cell levels will be low. Low red blood count is the most common finding of a CBC.
Quantitative immunoglobulins: analyzes blood levels of immunoglobulins. Levels of immunoglobulins are measured to see if any are too high or too low. In multiple myeloma, the level of one type may be high while the others are low.
SPEP (serum protein electrophoresis): This test looks at the different proteins in the blood to see if the blood contains an abnormal myeloma protein. It is one of the first tests your doctor will order if myeloma is suspected.
Free light chain assay: Because the myeloma protein isn’t always a whole antibody, doctors conduct the Free Light Chain Assay to measure a small part of the antibody known as the light chain.
Beta-2 microglobulin: High levels of Beta-2 microglobulin are shown in patients with multiple myeloma. The test is used to predict outlook or to monitor treatment results.
Blood chemistry tests: These tests analyze kidney function and different chemical and electrolyte levels in the blood.