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What is the Most Definitive Test to Diagnose Multiple Myeloma?

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What is the most definitive test to diagnose multiple myeloma? What lab tests diagnose Multiple Myeloma? What blood tests indicate Multiple Myeloma?

“Hi, I just got diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma a month ago. I am going for my bone marrow biopsy in a few days-  Maria”

Hi Maria-
I am sorry to learn of your MM diagnosis. A bone marrow biopsy (BMB) is probably the most definitive test to diagnose multiple myeloma. I say this because a BMB is the only test that actually samples your bone marrow to examine if myeloma cells are actually present.
Clearly establishing the presence of multiple myeloma IN your bone marrow is my definition of the most definitive test to diagnose MM. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that when you have a BMB, your oncologist sticks a needle in your hip bone or your breast bone. He/she will numb the area first but there still might be a bit of pain.
Other blood and urine tests look for increases and decreases in other components of blood and urine that occur in the presence of multiple myeloma. It is important, for example, to know that you have too much calcium IN your blood. And multiple myeloma often causes bones to dissolve causing calcium levels to increase IN your blood.
Keep in mind however, that there a many steps you can take to beat the odds. Let me mention a few below and then ask a few questions.
1) You seem to be wondering about nutrition as a MM therapy. Yes, studies show that anti-angiogenic foods and nutritional supplements are cytotoxic (kill) MM. I will link the nutritional guide below. 
2) Working with or at least consulting with an oncologist who specializes in multiple myeloma has been shown to result in much longer length of life. MM is a rare blood cancer- less than 2% of all cancer diagnoses annually in the US are MM and about 10% of all blood cancer diagnoses are for MM. 
I will link a list of MM specialists below.
3) I consider a BMB to be the most definitive test to diagnose multiple myeloma. Your bone marrow biopsy is one of many diagnostic tests (blood, urine, genetic) that will help you think through your therapy plan. For example, a diagnosis of stage 1 or early stage MM is very different that a diagnosis of advanced MM or stage III. The amount of chemo, the toxic load is very different for these two stages. 
You should receive a percentage of MM IN your bone marrow after you have your BMB. A percentage of MM cells of less than 30% is considered early stage MM.
Are you experiencing any symptoms such as bone pain, fatigue (anemia) or kidney damage?
How old are you? The average age of a MM patient is 69. Younger is equates to a longer overall survival, older generally means that you should be given less chemo, less toxicity.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Hang in there,
David Emerson
MM Survivor
MM Cancer Coach
Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Multiple Myeloma Specialists- Why?

“You’ve been diagnosed with incurable cancer. You’re trying to manage your emotions and perhaps the emotions of those closest to you. Going to a hematologist/oncologist seems like the best thing to do, right? Studies show that hematologists/oncologists who specialize in multiple myeloma provide much better overall survival statistics than non-specialists...”

Multiple Myeloma Diagnostics- FISH, SPEP, CBC, FLC’s and Imaging

“As a long-term multiple myeloma (MM) survivor who has been scanned, nuked, stuck, pricked and bled more times than I care to remember, I can tell you that multiple myeloma diagnostics are critical because:

  1.  MM is often misdiagnosed and
  2.  MM is in all about the details.

What I mean by “all about the details” is that MM patients can have MM with few outward symptoms or MMers can have painful symptoms and yet have an early stage of even pre-multiple myeloma (SBP, MGUS, or SMM). The best way for you to learn what’s going on inside you is/are the MM diagnostic tests outlined below.

In order for you to be properly diagnosed for MM, your oncologist will examine your blood, your urine and your bones.

The most important thing for the MM patient to understand is that his/her stage at diagnosis is the single most important prognostic factor possible…”

What is Multiple Myeloma? Oncology has it backwards…

What is multiple myeloma?  In my experience the standard-of-care approach for multiple myeloma patients is misleading. Considering only FDA approved MM therapies represents short-term thinking. Newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients are put at a huge disadvantage if they think short-term.

In my experience, MM is a blood cancer that combines potentially life-threatening symptomsand a series of life-threatening side effects. All at the same time. Let me explain…

The most common MM symptoms are:

The most common side effects/complications caused by MM therapies are:

The most common causes of death for multiple myeloma survivors are:

These common causes of death for MM survivors can also be symptoms of MM as well as side effects caused by MM therapies…”

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