Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance
What is monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)?
MGUS is a non-cancerous, or benign, condition of the blood. Patients with MGUS have an abnormal protein, known as an M-protein or paraprotein, in their blood. These paraproteins are made by plasma cells, which normally create antibodies to fight infections.
Often, there are no specific symptoms experienced related to MGUS. The primary concern is the possibility of MGUS to progress to multiple myeloma.
MGUS risk factors
The risk of MGUS increases with age, with the highest incidence among adults 85 years or older. Like other pre-myeloma conditions, it is more common among men than women, and nearly twice as common in African-Americans.
Patients with MGUS should speak with their doctor if they experience symptoms such as bone pain or fatigue. These may be signs that the condition is progressing to active myeloma.
As MGUS often does not show symptoms, it is typically detected during routine check-ups. During these check-ups, a blood test which detects an increased blood protein level may signify MGUS.
A test known as serum electrophoresis is then performed. This test identifies the specific paraprotein present, confirming the MGUS diagnosis.
Prognosis and treatment following an MGUS diagnosis
As a relatively stable, benign condition, MGUS does not typically require treatment. The primary risk for patients with MGUS is its possible progression to active myeloma. Regular check-ups are important to monitor for this progression. Patients with MGUS who experience new symptoms should speak with their doctor right away.
Scientists at University of Iowa Health Care are researching what factors lead to the progression of MGUS to active myeloma. This includes studying the genetics of MGUS and myeloma, which may lead to the development of personalized treatments to prevent the progression.