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Multiple myeloma blood test

A new method makes it easier to follow the progression of the blood cancer multiple myeloma, it is claimed.

With a single drop of blood, it is possible to accurately show whether the number of cancerous cells in the bone marrow is increasing in a patient.

Those behind the method say that, in time, this blood test could potentially replace the current bone marrow puncture. 

Improved treatments have made it possible to keep the disease under long-term control in an increasing number of patients. In some patients it even goes so well that no disease can be measured in the blood.

However, this does not mean that the malignant cells are all gone.

Often these patients reach a state of minimal residual disease. Whether this is the case is currently measured by means of a bone marrow puncture. This is an unpleasant procedure for patients. Moreover, the test is not sensitive enough. Medical immunologist and research author Hans Jacobs said: “The disease is found almost everywhere in the bone marrow, but in some areas there are more cancerous cells than in other areas. So if you take a biopsy where there are fewer cancer cells, the test result does not accurately reflect the real situation.”

The new method uses mass spectrometry and can measure unique molecules, derived from cancer cells, in the blood. These molecules reveal the presence of the cancer cells in just a drop of blood.

This allows you to see very quickly if the number of cancer cells in the body, or disease activity, is increasing. A treatment (for example, medication or chemotherapy) can then be started more quickly, if necessary.

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