Myelom-Gruppe Rhein-Main

Last modified: 12 January 2013


Bone pain can be a sign of myeloma – Patients and doctors join forces to raise awareness of early myeloma diagnosis

Myeloma Euronet and EFORT, the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, have joined efforts to highlight the importance of early myeloma diagnosis.

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Back Pain? Could be Myeloma!

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The purpose of the diagnosis is to confirm or remove the suspicion of cancer and, in the event of the suspicion being confirmed, to gain precise knowledge of the tumour. Therapy only makes sense if preceded by a thorough diagnosis.

The illness can be determined in several ways. General indications are changes to the blood and urine counts, bone pains or bone fractures. These give cause for specific examinations for the existence of multiple myeloma. For a positive diagnosis at least two of the following criteria must be fulfilled:

  • The share of plasma cells in the bone marrow sample is more than 10 percent.
  • Myeloma-specific bone lesions (which have the appearance of punched holes in the skeletal system), or reduction of bone density (osteoporosis) and bone fractures. However none of these bone lesions are absolutely specific to multiple myeloma.
  • More than 3 grams of paraprotein per 100 ml of blood are detectable and/or paraproteins are found in the urine and/or there is evidence of thinning of the bones.

The aim of the diagnostics is to confirm the diagnosis as early as possible, i.e. before the occurrence of complications and to find out whether the tumour is benign or malignant. The benignity/malignancy is an important criterion for the decision as to which form of therapy you will be offered.

Provide your doctor with an outline of all complaints and previous illnesses. Details that may appear to you to be irrelevant could provide your doctor with important information. You should also read the page entitled "Well-informed patients".

In addition to the examination of the blood and urine, x-ray pictures or the supplementary nuclear spin or computer tomography are important diagnosis aids for the detection of osteolysis (points at which the bone substance is reduced). A bone marrow puncture, i.e. the removal of a bone marrow sample, forms the basis for the diagnostics of multiple myeloma. Your symptoms, the results of the blood, urine and x-ray examinations, as well as the assessment of the bone marrow sample, help confirm the diagnosis.

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