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Patient education: Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (The Basics)

Patient education: Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (The Basics)

What is monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance? — Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, called "MGUS" for short, is a condition that involves 1 type of white blood cell. White blood cells fight infections in the body. They are made in the bone marrow, which is the tissue in the center of your bones.

When people have MGUS, their bone marrow makes too many of 1 type of white blood cell. These white blood cells make a protein called monoclonal protein (M-protein).

MGUS causes no symptoms and, in most cases, does not lead to any problems. But in some cases, MGUS can turn into a serious condition. One serious condition is multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of the white blood cells involved in MGUS.

What are the symptoms of MGUS? — MGUS does not cause any symptoms. Your doctor or nurse will suspect you have it after you have lab tests done for another reason.

Is there a test for MGUS? — Yes. If your doctor or nurse suspects you have MGUS from other lab test results, they will do an exam and further tests. These can include:

Blood tests

Urine tests

A bone marrow biopsy – For this test, a doctor takes a very small sample of the bone marrow. Then another doctor looks at the sample under a microscope to see which cells are present.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, or MRI scans – Imaging tests create pictures of the inside of the body.

How is MGUS treated? — MGUS does not need treatment. But your doctor will monitor your condition closely. That way, they will know if your MGUS turns into a serious condition that does need treatment.

To monitor your condition, your doctor will talk with you and do exams on a regular basis. They might also order repeat blood and urine tests. How often these tests are done depends on your individual situation.

People with MGUS have a higher-than-normal chance of breaking a bone. Because of this, your doctor will check you for osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones weak. If you have osteoporosis, they will treat it. If you don't have osteoporosis, your doctor will recommend things you can do to help keep your bones strong. This includes getting enough calcium and vitamin D.

What symptoms should I watch for? — You should watch for symptoms that could mean your MGUS has changed into a serious condition. This change can happen quickly. Let your doctor or nurse know right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

Bone pain

Feeling more tired or weak than usual

Fever

Night sweats that soak your clothes

Headache or dizziness

Weight loss

Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the chest, lower back, or legs

Blurry vision or trouble hearing

Bleeding more than usual

These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions that are not serious. But your doctor or nurse will want to check that your MGUS hasn't changed into a condition that needs treatment.

More on this topic

Patient education: Multiple myeloma (The Basics)
Patient education: Osteoporosis (The Basics)
Patient education: Bone density testing (The Basics)
Patient education: Cancer screening (The Basics)
Patient education: Calcium and vitamin D for bone health (The Basics)

Patient education: Multiple myeloma symptoms, diagnosis, and staging (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Multiple myeloma treatment (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Osteoporosis prevention and treatment (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Calcium and vitamin D for bone health (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jan 01, 2023.
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