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Categorized | About Pat, Tips

What is an M-spike?

Posted on October 11 2011 by Pat Killingsworth | 32,445 views

A reader wanted to know:  “What is an M-spike?”

I have referred to my M-spike numbers a lot recently. The formal name for this type of blood test is serum protein electrophoresis.  This test separates your blood proteins, allowing a specially trained pathologist to detect the presence of monoclonal proteins in your blood.

Called an M-spike, it helps identify the amount of monoclonal protein in a multiple myeloma patient’s blood–the clearest indicator that there is a problem with too many plasma cells in their bone marrow.

But it is important to note that this isn’t the only way to identify and track multiple myeloma. Parts of M-proteins may also be detected in a test of your urine. When M-proteins are found in urine, they’re referred to as Bence Jones proteins.

Undetectable in the blood, a 24 hour urine sample is used to monitor patients with this type of myeloma.

No M-proteins in your blood or urine?  You may not be out of the woods, yet!  As many as 8% of people with multiple myeloma are non-secretors.  Their blood and urine may show no or little evidence of monoclonal protein, yet they still have multiple myeloma. The only way to follow the progress of their cancer is through frequent bone marrow biopsies and diagnostics like PET scans.

Here is a LINK to a pathology student’s take on how the process works.

Want to learn more?  CLICKING-HERE is a good place to start.  The link will take to to an article I found from a few years back on a site called Everyday, which takes a closer look at different ways to identify and track multiple myeloma.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat


9 Comments For This Post

  1. Tim Says:

    Thanks for the info Pat, I was wondering about the M-Spike and why my doctors have never mentioned M-Spike through my diagnosis and treatment. I have been battling Myeloma since February of 2011 and my doctors had never mentioned M-Spike, but know I understand why; I have Bence Jones protiens secreted through the urine. At time of diagnosis I also had extremely high lambda light chains.

    I am about a week or two behind you in my stem cell transplant, I had my on July 21st. I find your posts extremely informative and encouraging. I have been blogging my whole experience ( since diagnosis to keep friends and family informed along with the hopes of helping the newly diagnosed.

    Keep up the good work and best of luck, I know you have a lot of followers praying for you.

  2. Vannette M Ross Says:

    Thank you for this article. Glen is one of the non-secretory and thus has no M-spike. This is the reason he is being denied the 2nd transplant. Things with the arbitration are getting very heated. We should have a decision soon. In the next day or two. Hopefully!

    Keep Strong,

  3. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Glad I could help, Tim. Remember that my higher than expected numbers don’t mean I’m necessarily in trouble–it just means I am going to need to undergo consolidation therapy. Hope you can skip this part. Good luck! Pat

  4. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    No kidding, Vannette! I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

  5. Judy V. Says:

    Thank you for the article, Very enlightening. I was diagnoses in July 2008. My oncologist has steered my thoughts away from a stem cell transplant saying that doctors aren’t doing as many as in the past. Every blog I read is about patients having the transplants done. I have been on Revlimid and Dex off and on since 2008. It has been like a roller coaster but I still work full time. What is your take on stem cell transplants?
    Thanks and best of luck to you.

  6. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Hi Judy-

    The short answer to your comment is that stem cell transplants(SCT)are still the standard of care. So yes, you will read a lot about them. I wrote a book about waiting to SCT. I waited over four years. I’m glad you are doing well! Did you have your stem cells harvested? It may not be too late–just in case.

    This is such an emotional issue–and you end with such a big question! Too big to answer here. I will write a post about this–using your comments as a launching point–and run it this weekend. How about that! Best of luck and thanks for reading!

  7. Mary Says:

    I have MM. My BM biopsy just completed showed no MM cells but my M spike was still .9 down from 1.3 in July. My Dr. says I am ready for a transplant. If I am down to 0 cells in biopsy, do I really need a transplant? How can I still have an M spike of .9.

    e-mail: [email protected].

  8. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    It sounds like you are newly diagnosed. What therapy on you on? If the therapy keeps working, one option is to harvest your cells and wait to transplant until the myeloma begins to push-back. Hopefully that would be years from now. Read an article I ran a few weeks back about waiting to transplant. CLICK HERE to access link. My book, Living with Multiple Myeloma, is largely about how I chose not to transplant. I have also written a book about stem cell transplants which will be available in one month. You can try typing in key words and questions into the grey, query bar in the upper right corner of my homepage to access more info about waiting. Good luck!

  9. marie Says:

    my father who is 89 has been told that he hasa high protein level m spike of 1.1 and may have mutlitple myloma. we have not gone to a hemotologist yet but is 1.1 a high number. it just seems s low

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