Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis
Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a cancer of the immune system that occurs in the white blood cells that compose plasma. The diagnosis of multiple myeloma is anchored on three findings in your body: the so-called plasmacytosis, presence of lytic lesions, the presence of M component in the plasma or in the urine.
In your blood, there are three general types of cells; red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The red blood cells are responsible for transporting the oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body while the white blood cells are responsible for fighting infections that enter your body. The platelets act as plugs when you cut any part of your body, thereby stopping the bleeding and prevent you from losing too much blood.
There is a particular type of white blood cell which is very much involved in multiple myeloma. These are called plasma cells and when the number of these cells increases in your tissues and other fluids, such as blood, you have what is medically known as plasmacytosis. In multiple myeloma, plasmacytosis is one of the findings that needs to be established if your medical doctors are thinking of multiple myeloma as the disease that currently afflicts you.
Lytic lesions are usually detected when you had x-ray of any of your bones. It is described as a “hole” in your bone, resulting from the loss of calcium in that area. Normally, in x-ray plates, your bones appear to be white; but when a part of your bone has lost significant amount of calcium, that area will appear as black in x-rays, thereby creating a “hole” since the surrounding part still appears as white since it still retains some amount of calcium. These lytic lesions are the ones causing severe pain in multiple myeloma. When these lytic lesions go deeper across any cross sectional area of your bone, a fracture or total break could take place. These lytic lesions are also looked for by your medical doctors if they are suspecting that you are suffering from multiple myeloma.
Presence of M component in the plasma or urine
As mentioned in the preceding, in multiple myeloma, there is increase in the number of plasma cells, which produce abnormal immunoglobulins. This can be confirmed by detecting the M component either in the blood or in the urine through the method of electrophoresis.
The three findings which were discussed in the preceding consist the so-called triad of multiple myeloma. It means that when these three are found in a patient or in you, most probably the patient or you has (have) the disease.