How serious Is MGUS?
Not many people have heard about MGUS, which is an acronym for monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. It may seem a little complicated.
While its complete form is long and complex, MGUS itself isn’t. It is an illness where an unusual protein called M protein is developed in your blood. M protein is also known as monoclonal protein.
MGUS typically is benign but, there is a risk of it progressing into complications. It is, therefore, best to be aware of it, starting with what it is.
What is MGUS?
Experts remain uncertain as to what causes MGUS. Some genetic changes and environmental conditions play a role in whether or not an individual has this condition. However, the doctors know that white blood cells generate these in the body’s bone marrow.
Also known as plasma cells, these contain antibodies that help the body resist infection. Plasma cells in people with MGUS, on the other hand, have rare proteins (M proteins) in addition to natural antibodies. M proteins are found in the bloodstream, and blood and urine samples can be used to diagnose them.
How is MGUS diagnosed?
Unless at high risk, people with MGUS usually face no problems. It is why a diagnosis is not always intentional. Doctors and healthcare providers mainly diagnose MGUS when urine or blood tests are part of a routine medical examination.
In some cases, it might also be when patients experience unusual signs such as discomfort, reduced red blood cell levels (anemia), or kidney complications. Some people may have symptoms such as a rash, numbness, or tingling sensations in the body.
Urine and blood test for people with MGUS will reveal the following:
- A paraprotein level in the blood of 30 g/L or less
- No or very little protein in the urine
- Proper calcium levels
- Normal kidney activity
A bone marrow biopsy or X-rays will reveal the following:
- Bone marrow with less than 10% irregular plasma cells
- No bone damage
Who Is At Most Risk?
Risk of developing MGUS increases as you get older. One in every 30 people over the age of 50 will have the disease, which increases to one in every 20 people over 70. People aged 85 and over have the most prevalence, with almost one in every ten people at risk.
It affects around 1.5 times more in men than women. The condition also tends to be almost twice as prevalent in African-Americans as it is in Caucasians. You are also at increased risk if you have a family record of multiple myeloma or MGUS.
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What Are Its Different Types?
There are three categories of MGUS, each of which is at high risk of health problems. These include:
Non-IgM MGUS (includes IgG, IgA, or IgD MGUS)
Non-IgM MGUS has a higher risk of being progression to multiple myeloma. It can lead to other severe conditions, including:
- immunoglobulin light chain (AL)
- amyloidosis or
- light chain deposition disease in some people.
It is the condition that concerns most individuals with MGUS.
This kind of MGUS puts you at risk for
- Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, a type of blood disorder
- AL amyloidosis,
- Multiple myeloma.
Around 15% of people with MGUS are affected by this.
Light chain MGUS (LC-MGUS)
It results in the detection of M proteins in the urine that can lead to :
- light chain multiple myeloma
- AL amyloidosis,
- light chain deposition disease.
What Is The Treatment For It?
Typically MGUS is not a condition that can be better with treatment. All you can do is protect yourself from the condition worsening. Every 6 to 12 months, the doctor or healthcare professionals will check your blood M-protein levels. Your doctor will check your M-protein levels to see if your condition is deteriorating.
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Doctors and healthcare professionals will keep a close eye to see if it evolves into something more. The signs and symptoms that suggest the development of further complications include:
- Reduced red blood cells or other blood disorders
- alterations in sight or hearing, as well as temperature or night perspirations
- lightheadedness and nausea
- problems with the heart and kidneys
- aches and pains in nerve and bone
- liver, lymph glands, or spleen augmentation
- exhaustion and weakness
- Involuntary weight reduction
Frequently Asked Questions
Can MGUS be of prevention?
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent MGUS.
How common is monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance?
As mentioned above, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance rates rises with age. Up to 5% of people over the age of 70 are of diagnosing with it.
Is MGUS a form of cancer?
While MGUS is not cancer, people who have it are at a higher risk of developing myeloma that is a form of blood cancer.
Is it possible to predict when MGUS will progress to myeloma?
There is no conclusive procedure to determine who will develop myeloma and who will remain stable over time. If you feel your condition is worsening, consult a doctor to get additional tests done.
What other tests should be conducted if a person is diagnosed with MGUS?
A shortage in blood cells, high calcium levels, and a reduction in kidney function can all be found with blood testing. A 24-hour urine protein test will monitor kidney injury to see whether M protein is released in your urine.
A CT scan or an MRI may be of use to look for bone anomalies to severe conditions. A bone marrow examination can also be if you have unexplained anemia, renal dysfunction, bone lesions, or elevated calcium levels.
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The majority of people with MGUS have little effect due to it in their everyday lives. Receiving a diagnosis for which there is no cure and which has a chance, however small, of progressing into another disease may be worrying. Daily doctor appointments are the easiest ways to determine the risk.
Always remember to stick to your doctor’s recommendations for monitoring your condition. Complexities will make it more challenging to manage the situation and manage any associated diseases. Do keep in mind that leading a healthier lifestyle will help you achieve positive results.