If a biopsy shows that you have multiple myeloma, we will need to learn how far the disease has progressed so we can plan the best treatment. This is called staging the disease. You may need additional tests, including blood tests, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans.
At Roswell Park, we examine markers in the blood and urine, and use that information, along with PET-CT and MRI, to find out how far the multiple myeloma has spread in the bone marrow. We evaluate the bone damage with the imaging techniques listed above, which have a significantly higher sensitivity than X-ray, which is no longer used for this purpose. We do this to spot any changes early and prevent further damage to the bone.
In patients without measurable disease in blood and urine (this type of multiple myeloma is called non-secretory), we use advanced imaging to monitor the disease rather than doing very frequent bone marrow biopsies. We have updated our imaging procedures to increase sensitivity and gather further information about the activity of the disease over time.