Diagnosis - Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma can be difficult to diagnose because it's an uncommon type of cancer that usually has few or no symptoms in the early stages.

What happens at your GP appointment

Your GP will examine you and ask about your symptoms, medical history and overall health. During the examination, your GP will look for things such as bleeding, signs of infection and specific areas of bone tenderness.

You may need urine and blood tests to check for certain types of antibodies and proteins (immunoglobulins).

Referral to hospital

If multiple myeloma is suspected, you'll be referred to hospital to see a haematologist (a doctor who specialises in conditions affecting the blood) for further tests and scans.

X-rays and other scans

In hospital you are likely to have X-rays taken of your arms, legs, skull, spine and pelvis to look for any damage.

It's likely you will also need other scans, such as CT scans and MRI scans.

Bone marrow biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy is usually needed to confirm multiple myeloma. A needle is used to take a small sample of bone marrow (where all the blood cells are made) from one of your bones, usually the pelvis. A small sample of bone may also be removed.

This is carried out using a local anaesthetic, which means the area where the needle is inserted is numbed.

The samples of bone marrow and bone will then be checked for cancerous plasma cells.

Page last reviewed: 11/04/2018
Next review due: 11/04/2021