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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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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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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 05, 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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