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Myeloma Screening and Diagnosis

To detect and diagnose myeloma, our physicians perform thorough exams. They also ask questions about your past health and possible symptoms of myeloma you may have noticed. These tests help your healthcare team:

  • Determine an accurate myeloma diagnosis
  • Determine the type of myeloma you have
  • Determine how far the disease has spread (also called staging)
  • Develop a myeloma treatment plan


How is myeloma diagnosed?

Your doctor may recommend 1 or several tests to evaluate you for multiple myeloma:

  • Blood tests: These tests will check for many things, such as anemia, kidney function, calcium levels and certain proteins associated with myeloma. A low red blood cell count (anemia) is the most common finding, but anemia by itself does not indicate myeloma.
  • Bone marrow biopsy: If your blood test is not normal, your physician may order a bone marrow biopsy for more information. During this biopsy, your physician will insert a needle into the bone to collect a small amount of the liquid portion of the bone marrow. Your doctor may perform one or several diagnostic tests on the bone marrow sample.
  • Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray is an image of the organs and bones inside your chest. An X-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body. Myeloma can weaken or destroy bone structure, and this damage could be seen on an X-ray.
  • CT scan: A CT or CAT scan uses X-rays to make a detailed picture of the structures inside your body. You lie on a table while the scanner sends a series of X-ray pulses through your body. Your diagnostic technician injects an iodine dye (contrast material) to make structures and organs easier to see on the CT pictures. Similar to an X-ray, a CT scan could indicate whether there is bone damage present. Your doctor may also use a CT scan to help guide the biopsy needle.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI is a procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves and a computer to make detailed pictures of areas in your body. This procedure also is called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI). An MRI can reveal certain abnormalities that an X-ray can’t detect.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: The PET scan uses a special camera to see organs in the body. The camera records a tracer (radioactive sugar) that your diagnostic technician puts into a vein. Cancer cells use more sugar than normal cells, so the tracer shows up in the cancer cells.
  • Urine tests: Your physician will check your kidney function and look for the presence of certain proteins that are associated with myeloma.


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