According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, evidence suggests that the rate of progression to malignancy related to their disease is relatively low for patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Furthermore, patients with MGUS are more likely to die from causes unrelated to their disease.
Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance is defined by the presence of an excessive amount of a specific protein (serum monoclonal protein) in the blood. MGUS is thought to be a potential precursor to multiple myeloma and other malignancies of the blood. Multiple myeloma is a cancer involving important immune cells called plasma cells. Although patients with MGUS are considered at a greater risk for developing multiple myeloma and other blood malignancies, most patients with MGUS never develop a blood related malignancy.
Researchers recently analyzed data from 1,382 patients diagnosed with MGUS at the Mayo Clinic between 1960 and 1994. Of the 1,384 patients, 115 progressed to malignant myeloma or another blood malignancy. The chance of progression to multiple myeloma or other related disorders was approximately 1% per year, 12% at 10 years, 25% at 20 years and 30% at 25 years. It is important to keep in mind that the majority of patients with MGUS are elderly and are ultimately more likely to die from causes not related to their disease.
These results indicate that patients with MGUS have a relatively low rate of progression to malignancy. The researchers conducting this clinical trial suggest that age and other health factors should be considered when treating MGUS. (New England Journal of Medicine, Vol 346, No 8, pp 564-569, 2002)
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