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Measuring Treatment Response

Your doctor must monitor your response to treatment for myeloma. By measuring your progress, your doctor can see whether any changes to your therapy are needed.

Your doctor uses the following tests to measure your treatment response:

  • blood and urine tests to check blood cell counts, kidney function and myeloma-cell growth
  • a bone marrow biopsy to observe the pattern and amount of myeloma cells in the marrow
  • X-rays or a computed tomography (CT) scan to look for holes, breaks or thinning in the bones
  • a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a positron emission tomography (PET) scan to look for changes in the marrow and pockets of myeloma cells

Your doctor may use one of the following terms in the table below to describe your response based on your test results.

Term Used to Describe Response


Remission Tests show no sign of the disease.
Complete response (also called complete remission) Standard tests show no sign of M protein, a normal percentage of plasma cells (5 percent in the marrow) or no sign of myeloma cells in the marrow
Near complete response Very sensitive test results are the same as a complete response plus extra sensitive tests show a normal ratio of free light chains and no myeloma cells in the marrow.
Very good partial response A 90 percent or greater decrease in M protein.
Partial response Tests show a more than 50 percent decrease of M protein blood levels and a 90 percent decrease of 24-hour urine M protein.
Minimal response Tests show a 25 percent to 50 percent decrease of M protein blood levels.
Stable disease Tests show a less than 25 percent decrease or increase in M protein blood levels.
Progressive disease

Tests show at least a 25 percent increase in M protein blood levels, new bone damage or a new mass of myeloma. This usually means treatment needs to be started or changed.

last updated on Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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