Should a Smoldering Myeloma Patient Have an MRI?

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This Ask the Expert segment with Dr. Robert Orlowski answers viewer Patricia’s question, “Do you suggest a smoldering myeloma patient have an MRI?” Dr. Orlowski offers reasons why an MRI is preferable to X-rays and reminds patients that blood and urine tests are equally important.

This Ask the Expert series is sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network, which received funding from Celgene, Novartis and Takeda.

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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.

Andrew Schorr:   

Here’s a question from Patricia, “How often do you suggest a smoldering myeloma patient have an MRI?  My oncologist has been doing skeletal scans every six months, but I think I would prefer an MRI.  My oncologist seems reluctant to do the MRI, I’m not sure why.” 

Dr. Orlowski:     

Well, thanks very much, Patricia for that.  In terms of smoldering myeloma, it is important to monitor the bones because one of the symptoms, if you will, of symptomatic myeloma, of course, [is] bone lesions.  What we do know is that MRI is more sensitive to find bone lesions than plain X-rays, not to mention that you’re not exposing yourself to radiation like you are with plain X-rays.  So I think there [are] two reasons right there why an MRI is probably a better way to go.  In fact, we know that the MRI will generally detect abnormalities sooner. And therefore if you start treatments sooner, hopefully there will be a lower risk of fracture or other bone disease. 

But it’s also important to monitor blood and urine tests, because people can sometimes progress with different symptoms, and bone disease is not the only one of those symptoms.  But I would agree.  I would probably prefer to do an MRI. 

Andrew Schorr:                                    

Okay, you got a vote from Dr. Orlowski.

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 July 17, 2017