Myeloma cells produce an antibody known as paraprotein. To make a diagnosis of myeloma, doctors will look for this paraprotein in the blood or urine. Once you have been diagnosed with myeloma, doctors will regularly check your paraprotein levels to monitor the disease.
Learn more about:
|Paraprotein is made up of smaller proteins that are usually linked together to form a pair of long chains (called heavy chains) and a pair of shorter chains (called light chains). Most people with myeloma release complete (intact) paraprotein made up of both heavy and light chains. Intact paraprotein can be detected in a blood test.|
|About 1 in 5 people with myeloma do not produce intact paraprotein. They produce only the light chain parts. These light chain parts are known as free light chains when detected in a special blood test, and as the Bence Jones protein when detected in a urine test. Some people produce both intact paraprotein and free light chains.|
Fewer than 1 in 50 people with myeloma produce little or no paraprotein. This is known as non-secretory myeloma. It makes diagnosis more difficult.
Dr Jane Estell, Senior Staff Specialist, Haematology Department, Concord Cancer Centre, and Senior Clinical Lecturer, The University of Sydney; Brenda Clasquin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Jacqui Keogh, Senior Myeloma Support Nurse, Myeloma Australia; Dr Silvia Ling, Haematologist, Liverpool Hospital and Sydney Adventist Hospital; and John Miller, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.