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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Staging multiple myeloma

Making an educated treatment decision begins with the stage, or progression, of the disease. The stage of multiple myeloma is one of the most important factors in evaluating treatment options.

Our cancer doctors use a variety of diagnostic tests to evaluate multiple myeloma and develop an individualized treatment plan. If you have been recently diagnosed, we will review your pathology to confirm you have received the correct diagnosis and staging information, and develop a personalized treatment plan. If you have a recurrence, we will perform comprehensive testing and identify a personalized treatment approach.

To determine which multiple myeloma treatments meet your needs, your care team will learn the stage (extent) of the disease. The rate the cancer is growing and whether or not there is evidence of kidney problems or other serious symptoms may also influence treatment choices.

Most cancers are staged based on the size and spread of tumors. To stage multiple myeloma, we look at blood cell counts, the amount of protein found in the blood and urine, the calcium level in the blood and other diagnostic test results.

There are currently two ways of staging multiple myeloma, both of which divide myeloma into three stages indicated by Roman numerals I-III. These two multiple myeloma staging systems differ in the factors that are evaluated:

  • The Durie-Salmon System considers the levels of monoclonal immunoglobulin, calcium and hemoglobin in the blood as well as the number of bone lesions (indicating the severity of bone damage). This multiple myeloma staging system is becoming less common.
  • The International Staging System for multiple myeloma relies on two main factors to stage multiple myeloma: the levels of albumin and beta-2-microglobulin in the blood.


Last Revised: 03/09/2017

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