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Understanding Your Test Results

This booklet outlines the tests that are used to diagnose and monitor myeloma, and to detect response and relapse. No single study is adequate to tell the whole story about a patient’s status but, used together, test results give a more complete picture. 

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Myeloma is a complex disease, and one that can manifest itself differently from indi­vidual to individual, or in one individual over time. You can better understand and cope with your myeloma if you familiarize yourself with the disease and the various tests used to assess your status through­out the disease course. Test results best reflect a patient’s status when followed and reviewed over time. A trend or pattern reveals more than a single result. No single test or study is ade­quate to tell the whole story of a patient’s current myeloma status. Each test can be thought of as a piece of a puzzle; only when the pieces are assembled cor­rectly can a patient and an experienced hematologist/oncologist make the proper inferences and decisions.

Test results are the most important tools that your doctor will use in order 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 response to treatment;
  • Monitor remission periods and deter­mine when to start treatment again;
  • Monitor for disease-related and treatment-related side effects.
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