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What is MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance)?

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

doctor-bloodQ. I need more explanation on my diagnosis. I had a serum immunofixation test and it came back with IgG-Lambda monoclonal gammopathy. I then did a 24-hour urine test. Now they say it's monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. I was told to come back every six months for more blood work.

Could you please tell me more about this? Maybe even a good Web page or book I could read. Everything I have found says it's only an old person's disease; I am a healthy, active, 34-year-old mother.

Rebecca, Michigan


A.
Some of the hints about what you have are in the name:

  • monoclonal (one type)
  • gammopathy (abnormal protein)
  • of undetermined significance
newsletter-graphic-free2It's MGUS for short.  Scientists have found an increase in levels of the immunoglobulin M protein in the blood of a few percent of the population, but they're not sure of the significance or the cause.  Sometimes, it will progress to the bone-marrow cancer multiple myeloma. This can happen as many as one in five cases.  However, most people live healthy lives with no symptoms.

Get expert-written articles like this every month in our free health newsletter.


Prognosis for MGUS

Other than living a healthy lifestyle, you will probably need to have a periodic blood test to make sure the M protein in your blood isn't increasing. If it does, you might require treatment—the earlier the better. The good news is, early treatment slows progression, and four in five people with MGUS appear to have no ill effects, leading healthy lives. The bad news is there are a lot of questions yet to be answered about its cause and its significance to your health.


More Information About MGUS
The best information I could find on MGUS was at the Mayo Clinic website. Mayo is at the forefront of research on MGUS.

You mentioned that you've read people with MGUS are generally older. The risk of MGUS does go up with age. Most people who have it are over 50. I did find one article in the New England Journal of Medicine noting that 24 of the 1,384 patients in this particular study were under 40 years old.

It appears we need to learn a lot before we can take off the “undermined significance” part of the name.


JAMES HUBBARD, M.D., M.P.H.,
is the publisher of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com. He's been a family doctor for over 25 years.


You May Also Be Interested In:


Last updated and/or approved: October 2011.
This general health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.
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Male
written by Philip Gregory Hetzner , September 16, 2011

I have constant aching in my leg bones and get very dizzy when I stand up
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MGUS
written by Jackie , September 15, 2011

Ok, this past February, my doctor told me that I'm one of the few people in which the MGUS turns into multiple myeloma. I just turned 44 and am scared to death. I go to have labs done every 3 months because treatment will have to be started eventually, they don't want to start treatment until my protein level goes a lot higher. I would definitely appreciate any information I can get regarding this condition.
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Mgus
written by Lorna , September 15, 2011

I have been told also that I have mugs, my joints ache all over, and sometimes I cannot bend, I am due to go to see the chronic pain clinic and have blood tests once a year. But I am worried that if I only have these test yearly could it be too late if has increased.

No one seems to come up with an answer. I just want my body back, I was so fit, I do exercising
Every day and enjoy walking the dog. I am 56 lady

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ms
written by dawn crump , September 05, 2011

i have been diagnosed with mgus about 3 years ago which was a blow because i have hep c, diabetes,osteoarthritis,cirrohsis of the liver and all i needed was another ilness to cope with.with regular check ups with a haematologist i have been reasonably well. at 45 years of age and a 4 year old granddaughter i adore i do worry about my future, but i enjoy every day smilies/smiley.gif
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Comment from Sue
written by Sue , June 01, 2011

My partner has had MGUS for many years and he also suffers from Neuropathy. He is always very tired and dizzy. At the moment it is still a watch and wait situation - with blood test every three to six months to see if there is any changes. He is now 68 and on many different medications for his Neuropathy. Although the Doctors have not said there is a link between two, I have also found there is many cases on researching on the Internet.
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Mr
written by Philip Hetzner , May 07, 2011

I have mgus and I have a lot of aching pain in my leg bones as well as constant infections . Please email me if this is happening to you please email me at ___.

[Editor's note: The email address has been removed; please see point number four in our comment policy http://familydoctormag.com/comment-policy.html. Thank you for commenting.]

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Mgus
written by Frances Castruita , May 05, 2011

We just found out that my brother has mgus (never heard of this) he is 50 years old and is a diabetic and has had a heart attack. He is also a worry wort and a highly stressed person. Don't know if any of this is a contributing factor. But if anyone can give more of an explanation of what this blood disorder is I would appreciated emensly. Would like to ease my brothers nerves. Please email.


Thank you,
Concern Sister

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Mgus
written by Cindy , April 02, 2011

I also have MGUS I have had the bone marrow biopsy and so far nothing showed up I go back to the DR in 6 months for blood work it was really upsetting when I found out about it and very scary to.
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MGUS
written by Jackie , February 18, 2011

Hi, I'm relatively new to all of this. I was told that I have MGUS a few years ago. Now, after going to see the doctor earlier this week, I was told that my protein level is 4,800. I've been scheduled to have a bone scan and bone marrow aspiration this coming Monday. Can anyone tell me what all this means?
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MGUS and neuropathy
written by carolyn brislawn , January 30, 2011

My recent blood test showed I have MGUS. My doctor says this has nothing to do with the worsening neuropathy in my feet, but I have found several testimonies on the internet indicating it is very common to have neuropathy with MGUS. As someone above says, I experience dizziness also. I also have a very strange gait when I walk now, making it difficult to walk without looking ''strange''.
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...
written by Maggy , January 14, 2011

I have MGUS withe M protein and am concerned also about this! I am being tested every 3 to 6 months. Tiredness and dizziness is the only symptoms I have with sometimes falling easily, due to dizziness, which may not be associated with MGUS. Anyone out there with any other associated illnesses with MGUS! I recently read on-line from a Doctor Peta that there are 12 disease connected with MGUS other than Multiple Myeloma and Lymphoma. Anyone know about the other 10? Thank you for any help you may know of.......Maggy
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MGUS
written by Beth Mistrot , November 11, 2010

Several years ago I was told I had MGUS. I go yearly for a blood test. My M protine count has gone up from 202 last year to 298 this year. At what point is the count too high? Are there any symptoms that I should watch out for?
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Re: MGUS
written by Leigh Ann , October 12, 2010

Hi, Carl. Thank you for the question. You may find the PDF doc*ment at the following link, from Myeloma Canada, helpful:
myeloma.org/pdfs/PHCanada.pdf

It explains that myeloma can result in anemia (a symptom of which can be feeling very tired), and one treatment option is supplementation: "If your anemia is due to a change in your diet, eating a healthier diet or taking iron, vitamin B12 or
folic acid (folate) supplements may help. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any non-prescription, over-the-counter iron or vitamin supplement, or any herbal remedy. Some supplements or remedies can interact with prescription medications."

Hope this helps--and that you get your energy back soon.

Leigh Ann Otte
Managing Editor, MyFamilyDoctorMag.com

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MGUS
written by Carl Kiefer , October 07, 2010

I iwas just diagnosed with MGUS, will continue blood tests regularly. Told by Dr. to take vitamin B12 and Folic Acid. I am extremely tired all the time. Will the vitamins help?
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MGUS
written by kris , March 23, 2009


I was also diagnosed with MGUS (IGG) at the Mayo Clinic. Some people with MGUS DO have symptoms. I was told that my neurological symptoms are due to MGUS. There have been studies that confirm that MGUS does cause symptoms in some people. Do a search on MGUS with symptoms or Neurological symtoms and MGUS - you will find much information about this.


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...
written by James Hubbard M.D. M.P.H. , March 04, 2009

Hi Becky:

If you continue your routine blood tests your doctor should be able to recognize any problems before you notice any symptoms

I know it is difficult, but worry and stress are not good. If you have not already, make an appointment specifically to talk to your doctor, questions and notes in hand.

Until more is found out, you will need the blood tests for a lifetime. Likely nothing will ever develop worse, but if it does, early recognition and treatment is essential to recovery.

Again, there are no warning signs or symptoms anywhere close to as early as an abnormal blood test.

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what to look for
written by Becky , March 04, 2009

So I too have Igg Lambda monoclonal gammapathy, (MGUS)this is the same thing correct?
other than see my doctor every 6 months, what symptoms do I rule out and what symptoms may mean that I need to warn my doctor. I am lost please help me too.

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