Diagnosing multiple myeloma

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on June 6, 2022.

Multiple myeloma is often difficult to diagnose, and may require several different tests to analyze. Tests designed for diagnosing multiple myeloma include:


A biopsy is a common diagnostic test for multiple myeloma. Our pathologists examine the cells from a biopsy sample under a microscope to look for the presence of myeloma cells in the marrow and note how many are found, to help formulate a thorough diagnosis.

Imaging tests

CT scan, PET/CT scan and MRI are among the imaging tests used to diagnose multiple myeloma.

Lab tests

We may use blood tests to check the amount of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the blood, which are often lower than normal from the disease. Your doctor may also check for the presence of proteins in the blood or urine, as well as levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, albumin and calcium.

Multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan: A MUGA scan/2D echocardiogram may be used to evaluate and monitor changes in heart function that may occur as a side effect of chemotherapy drugs for multiple myeloma.

Flow cytometry: A flow cytometry test for multiple myeloma may provide valuable insight into whether the tumor cells contain a normal or abnormal amount of DNA, and the relative rate at which the tumor is growing.

Next topic: How is multiple myeloma treated?

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