Laboratory practice is central to earlier myeloma diagnosis: Utilizing a primary care diagnostic tool and laboratory guidelines integrated into haematology services

Br J Haematol. 2024 Feb;204(2):476-486. doi: 10.1111/bjh.19224. Epub 2024 Jan 2.


Treatment advances have greatly improved survival, but myeloma is among the worst of all cancers for delayed diagnosis, causing serious morbidities and early deaths. This delay is largely because the symptom profile of myeloma has very low specificity, and in primary care, myeloma is rare. However, initiating the journey to diagnosis simply requires considering myeloma and sending blood to test for monoclonal immunoglobulin. Laboratory tests reliably detect monoclonal immunoglobulin, which is present in 99% of myeloma cases, so why do health care systems have such a problem with delayed diagnosis? The Myeloma UK early diagnosis programme has brought together diverse expertise to investigate this problem, and this article was prepared by the programme's working group for laboratory best practice. It reviews evidence for test requesting, analysis and reporting, for which there is large variation in practice across the United Kingdom. It presents a 'GP Myeloma diagnostic tool' and how it can be integrated into laboratory practice alongside a laboratory best practice tool. It proposes improved requesting and integration with haematology services for reporting and interpretation. Here the laboratory has a central role in creating efficient and cost-effective pathways for appropriate and timely bone marrow examination for myeloma diagnosis.

Keywords: earlier diagnosis; laboratory practice; myeloma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Hematology*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma* / therapy
  • Primary Health Care
  • United Kingdom