What is the role of the Bence-Jones test in multiple myeloma?

FAQ Library published on July 30, 2013 in Diagnosis/Staging
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Philippe Moreau, MD
Department of Hematology
University Hospital
Nantes, France

Hello, my name is Philippe Moreau. I am professor of Clinical Hematology of the University Hospital of Nantes in France, and I am often asked what is the role of the Bence-Jones test in multiple myeloma?  As you know, the tumor cells within the bone marrow are secreting monoclonal immunoglobulin that can be evaluated in the electrophoresis. It is entire immunoglobulin with two heavy chains and two light chains. The tumor cells are also secreting light chains only either kappa or lambda that are circulating in the serum and that are excreted by the kidney in the urine. And it is possible to measure, to quantify these light chains, either kappa or lambda, in the urine with the proteinuria, and we are measuring this amount of proteinuria for 24 hours and we are also looking at the light chains in the urine electrophoresis. And this is the definition of the Bence-Jones test to check the amount of light chain in the urine excreted by the kidney.

Reviewed on January 17, 2017 for clinical relevance.

Last modified: February 8, 2017
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