More evidence needed on benefit of additional procedure for diagnosing plasma cell cancer

Research Activities, October 2012, No. 386

There may not be sufficient evidence to determine whether the addition of the Serum Free Light Chain (SFLC) procedure to traditional testing increases diagnostic accuracy for Plasma Cell Dyscrasias (PCD, a cancer of the plasma cells) or whether it helps predict disease progression. That's the conclusion of a new research review from the Effective Health Care Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Although the SFLC procedure has been in use for a decade for PCD diagnosis, how best to incorporate it into practice remains unclear. The review determined that evidence was mostly insufficient to determine the extent to which adding SFLC to current tests improves diagnosis, prognosis, monitoring of therapy, and treatment decisions. It found that more research is needed to understand the exact role of SFLC and its most effective use across the full range of PCD cancers and clinical settings. Evaluating the comparative effectiveness of SFLC will allow for use of the procedure to be refined and recommendations optimized.

The review also explained that additional research on the SFLC procedure should focus on standardizing the process for calculating its role in diagnostic testing and disease progression, as well as defining outcomes and responses in patients.

These findings can be found in the research review, Serum-Free Light Chain Analysis for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prognosis of Plasma Cell Dyscrasias. This review adds to AHRQ's growing library of resources on key health topics.

To access this review and other materials that explore the effectiveness and risks of treatment options for various conditions, visit the Effective Health Care Program Web site at http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.

Current as of October 2012
Internet Citation: More evidence needed on benefit of additional procedure for diagnosing plasma cell cancer: Research Activities, October 2012, No. 386. October 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/oct12/1012RA34.html