Understanding Multiple Myeloma Blood Tests

Understanding Your Blood Tests

People living with multiple myeloma will have their blood tested often.

Your doctor or nurse will need to test your blood on a regular schedule to see exactly how multiple myeloma affects you.

Multiple myeloma and blood tests

Your blood tests can tell your doctor or nurse:

  • If your multiple myeloma is under control
  • How multiple myeloma is affecting your body
  • Why you may be feeling certain symptoms
  • How treatment is affecting your body

Testing your blood can tell you and your doctor if you have the right amount of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets:

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen to every part of your body
  • White blood cells help fight infections
  • Platelets help stop bleeding

Other blood tests can determine if your bones may be getting weaker. Weakened bones are at greater risk of painful fractures and breaks.

Another important blood test can tell if your body is making large amounts of something called monoclonal protein, or M-protein. M-protein is a type of abnormal antibody that is made by myeloma cells.

Why you may need blood tests

Below is a list of some common and key blood tests you may have to undergo:

Blood test

Complete blood count (CBC)

Why you may need this test

Measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood

Blood test

Chemistry/metabolic panel

Why you may need this test

Checks the level of certain substances such as calcium, serum creatinine, and liver enzymes. The results may show how multiple myeloma is affecting your bones, heart, kidneys, and liver

Blood test

Immunoglobulin levels

Why you may need this test

Helps to monitor multiple myeloma by counting abnormal antibodies

Blood test

Serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP)

Why you may need this test

Helps to monitor multiple myeloma by measuring the abnormal monoclonal protein (M-protein) in the blood

Blood test

Immunofixation

Why you may need this test

Helps to monitor multiple myeloma by identifying the types of M-protein in the blood

Blood test

Serum free light chain assay

Why you may need this test

Helps to monitor multiple myeloma by measuring immunoglobulin light chains

Understanding the test results

Your blood test results may help explain why you have certain symptoms.

Test results

Low red blood cells

Symptoms

Fatigue or exhaustion, sometimes with weakness, pale skin, and dizziness

Test results

Low white blood cells

Symptoms

More infections than normal

Test results

Low platelets

Symptoms

Easily bruised, more bleeding than normal when cut or scraped

Test results

High blood calcium

Symptoms

Increased thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, constipation, tiredness, and sometimes confusion

Test results

Increased monoclonal protein (M-protein)

Symptoms

The blood thickens and becomes sticky, which causes shortness of breath, chest pain, and confusion

Always talk to your doctor or nurse about your blood tests. They can tell you more about your results and what they mean. 

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