Screening for myeloma

There is no UK screening programme for myeloma because:

  • this type of cancer is uncommon, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

See your GP if you have any symptoms or are worried about your cancer risk.

What is cancer screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease. This is before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

What to do if you think you're at risk of myeloma

Talk to your GP if you think you are at higher than average risk of myeloma.


You have regular appointment to check for signs of myeloma if you have a medical condition called MGUS. MGUS stands for monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). 

MGUS is not cancer. But some people with it can go on and develop myeloma. If you have MGUS, your plasma cells make too many abnormal immunoglobulins. Doctors call these paraproteins or M protein. These show up in your blood test.

This condition does not usually cause any problems. Sometimes it is only picked up by chance when you have blood tests for another reason. 

Some people with MGUS go on to develop myeloma. So your specialist or GP do blood tests every 6 to 12 months to monitor you. About 1 out of 100 people with MGUS (1%) develop myeloma each year.

  • Criteria for appraising the viability, effectiveness and appropriateness of a screening programme
    Public Health England
    October, 2015

  • Myeloma: diagnosis and management
    National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2016

  • Advances in MGUS diagnosis, risk stratification, and management: introducing myeloma-defining genomic events.
    O Landgren
    Haematology American Society of Haematology Education Program, 2021 Volume 1, Pages 662-672.

  • What is the significance of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance?
    C Atkin and others
    Clinical Medicine (London), 2018. Volume 18, Issue 5, Pages 391-396

  • Changing paradigms in diagnosis and treatment of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM).
    M Ho and others
    Leukemia 2020. Volume 34, Issue 12, Pages 3111-3125

Last reviewed: 
08 Nov 2023
Next review due: 
08 Nov 2026

Related links