According to a study conducted among residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, 3.2% of persons 50 years of age or older have monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS); this condition is a precursor to multiple myeloma. These results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is a precancerous disorder of plasma cells (a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies). In patients with MGUS, abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow produce a specific protein that can be detected in blood or urine. MGUS is thought to be a precursor to multiple myeloma and other malignancies of the blood.
Although MGUS increases the risk of multiple myeloma, only a subset of patients with MGUS will develop myeloma. Among patients with MGUS, the risk of developing myeloma or another blood-related cancer is approximately 1% per year.
The frequency of MGUS in the general population has not been well defined. To evaluate the frequency of MGUS in the population of Olmsted County, Minnesota, researchers at the Mayo Clinic evaluated blood samples from residents 50 years of age or older. Of 28,038 residents in this age range, blood samples were available for 21,463.
- MGUS was identified in 694 (3.2%) of study subjects.
- Rates of MGUS were higher in men (4.0%) than in women (2.7%).
- Rates of MGUS increased with age. MGUS was identified in 5.3% of subjects 70 years of age or older and in 7.5% of subjects 85 years of age or older.
The researchers conclude among residents of Olmstead Country, Minnesota, MGUS was present in 3.2% of persons age 50 or older. The frequency of MGUS increases with age and is higher in men.
Reference: Kyle RA, Therneau TM, Rajkumar SV et al. Prevalence of Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance. New England
Journal of Medicine . 2006;354:1362-9.
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