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Clin Chem Lab Med. 2016 Jun 1;54(6):907-19. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2015-0580.

Laboratory testing requirements for diagnosis and follow-up of multiple myeloma and related plasma cell dyscrasias.


Monoclonal immunoglobulins are markers of plasma cell proliferative diseases and have been described as the first (and perhaps best) serological tumor marker. The unique structure of each monoclonal protein makes them highly specific for each plasma cell clone. The difficulties of using monoclonal proteins for diagnosing and monitoring multiple myeloma, however, stem from the diverse disease presentations and broad range of serum protein concentrations and molecular weights. Because of these challenges, no single test can confidently diagnose or monitor all patients. Panels of tests have been recommended for sensitivity and efficiency. In this review we discuss the various disease presentations and the use of various tests such as protein electrophoresis and immunofixation electrophoresis as well as immunoglobulin quantitation, free light chain quantitation, and heavy-light chain quantitation by immuno-nephelometry. The choice of tests for inclusion in diagnostic and monitoring panels may need to be tailored to each patient, and examples are provided. The panel currently recommended for diagnostic screening is serum protein electrophoresis, immunofixation electrophoresis, and free light chain quantitation.

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