Biopsy and Imaging: How Do Experts Pinpoint Myeloma in the Body?

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Topics include: Treatment and Understanding

Dr. Faith Davies from The UAMS Myeloma Institute discusses the technology experts use currently to detect and diagnose myeloma. She also explains other diagnostics doctors run that identify where and how the condition has affected a patient’s body.

This town meeting is sponsored by Amgen, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Takeda Oncology. It is produced by Patient Power in partnership with the UAMS Myeloma Institute.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Jeff Folloder:

Dr. Davies, what are some of the diagnostic tools that are used to peg that myeloma diagnosis?

Dr. Davies:            

When we come to diagnose myeloma, we need to take a series of blood tests. They’re not only to try and detect the myeloma protein that is the hallmark to the diagnosis, but they also help us to detect damage that may have been caused by the myeloma. So we need to make sure the kidneys are okay, that the blood counts are okay. But we also then need to go on and find the actual cells that are causing the problem. So we unfortunately need to do a bone marrow test, so we can look exactly where the problem is. And as you mentioned, that will come back to some of the genetic tests that we were talking about earlier.

Jeff Folloder:     

I’m going to hold you up for just a second. You said a bone marrow test. Is this the dreaded bone marrow biopsy?

Dr. Davies:            

That’s the dreaded bone marrow biopsy, yes.

Jeff Folloder:     

I just need a show of hands, here. If you’ve had a bone marrow biopsy, raise your hand, please.

That’s a lot of you. Hang on just a second. If you’ve had two of them, keep your hand up. If you’ve had three of them, keep your hand up. Four? Five? Six? Seven? Eight? Nine? 10? 12? 15? 20? 25? 30? We’re stopping at 30. Just in case any of you were wondering, maybe you’re online and you haven’t had one yet. This is where you guys take a needle and jab it in the back of our hip bone and extract material out. This is a Medieval technique. Doctor, why are you doing this to us 30-plus times?

Dr. Davies:            

Because we’re mean and cruel. 

Jeff Folloder:     

Okay. 

Dr. Davies:            

Unfortunately at the moment, that’s the only way we can really tell exactly what’s going on and exactly where the cells that are causing the problem, what they look like and what problems they’re causing. And hopefully we’ll come back later to some of the work that Brian and his colleagues are doing about trying to get rid of that process, which I think everybody would agree would be an amazing thing. Just at this point, and I’m sure you’re going to—are you going to come back to it later, why some of the patients have had more than 30 bone marrows?

Jeff Folloder:     

Yes. 

Dr. Davies:                                                

All right, I’ll save that as a secret for later. The other area that is really important is imaging. We need to make sure, because we know that myeloma can not only affect the kidneys, but it can also affect the bones. We need to make sure that we look after patients’ bone health, and we need to make sure that we know exactly where the myeloma is.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on November 8, 2017