MGUS: Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Symptoms, And Consequences

MGUS

MGUS stands for Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance. It belongs to a family of diseases otherwise known as plasma cell dyscrasias. It is a benign condition and its causes are still not known. However, it is believed that chemical and radiation exposure can increase the risks of this disease.

In most cases, there are no complications with MGUS patients. Some cases can develop illnesses of the bone marrow. Multiple myeloma and lymphoma fall under this category. Since it affects the plasma cells, it begins in the bone marrow. The bone marrow is a soft, spongy, tissue that fills many of our bones. The most important of these would be the spine and the hipbone. 

The plasma cells produce antibodies known as immunoglobulins or IG. These are also called M-proteins. These Y-shaped antibodies play a vital role in the immune system. In MGUS, plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies that have large amounts of M-proteins. Keep in mind, it is a rare condition and generally affects older men. 

MGUS

1. Risk Factors

The causes behind Monoclonal Gammopathy are not yet known. However, some factors are believed to increase the risk of MGUS in individuals.

Some of them are as follows:

  • Age: People above the age of 65 are more prone to t.
  • Gender: It is more common among males.
  • Race: People, who are African, or African-American, are at an increased risk of MUSG in comparison to whites.
  • Family History: Your chances of Monoclonal Gammopathy increase if you have a family member diagnosed with the condition. This is also applicable to immediate relatives. 

2. Diagnosis

There is no specific diagnosis method for it, as it does not manifest specific symptoms. A normal blood report may indicate MGUS. The number of immunoglobulins is high in this case. It also affects the quantum of other proteins in the blood. It is often confused with multiple myeloma. However, the number of M-proteins is relatively higher in the case of multiple myeloma. 

3. Symptoms

If you are someone diagnosed with MGUS, you might not exhibit any particular symptoms. The only common symptom of Monoclonal Gammopathy is increased immunoglobulin content in the blood.

A few people do experience the following symptoms:

  • Rashes
  • Numbness or tingling sensations

Sometimes, MGUS patients also experience severe renal disease. 

It may not exhibit symptoms initially. However, progressive MGUS does exhibit some symptoms. These can range from mild to severe.

Some of them are mentioned as under:

  • Blood Abnormalities: It can cause iron deficiency among patients. This can lead to anemia. MGUS can also cause other blood-related abnormalities, which include blood cancers like lymphoma.
  • Fatigue: Tiredness is normal unless there is no obvious reason behind it. Such fatigue is a sign of concern. If you have been experiencing such fatigue for some time, get yourself checked. Your doctor will advise a blood test if he suspects of MGUS. Fatigue can easily go unnoticed, so it is important to take note of tiredness without any exhausting activity.
  • Cardiovascular and Renal Ailments: Although rare, patients can experience heart and kidney issues. This is because increased M-proteins in the blood affect renal functionality. Patients are at an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Nerve Pain: Increased paraproteins in the blood can damage the blood vessels. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy results in the tingling sensation in limbs.
  • Bone Pain: The abnormal antibodies can eat away the healthy bone tissue. This can cause microscopic wounds in the bones known as osteolytic lesions. These lesions result in severe bone pain. Thus, talk to your doctor if you experience bone pain without any damage or injury. 
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: It is good to keep your weight in check unless weight change is evident. If you have lost weight without any efforts, you might want to talk with your doctor. Such weight loss can be indicative of MGUS. Unexplained weight loss is not good in any way. It is always a symptom of an underlying health issue.
  • Swelling: Another symptom of MGUS is the swelling of internal organs. Swelling can be observed on organs like the liver or the spleen through an X-Ray or an MRI scan. If you experience jaundice or frequent nausea, it can indicate swelling on the liver. This, in turn, can be an indication of Monoclonal Gammopathy.
  • The decline in Bone Mass: It is no surprise that it can deteriorate bone mass. This is because MGUS originates in the bone marrow, affecting the plasma cells. In this situation, you may have to take medicines that are generally prescribed for osteoporosis. The above-mentioned symptoms are not seen in every person suffering from MGUS. However, years of medical observations have helped compile this list. You may experience one or more than one symptom. You might not even experience any symptoms at all. MGUS, in most cases, is diagnosed during a regular blood test. It presents itself in the form of increased M-proteins or immunoglobulins.

4. Consequences

While Monoclonal Gammopathy is usually harmless, it can develop into malignant disorders, in rare cases.

Some of these illnesses are as follows:

  • Multiple myeloma: It is a form of plasma cell cancer. It affects the bones and spreads to other parts of the body thereafter.
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: Another form of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system.
  • Primary Amyloidosis: Abnormal proteins build up in tissues and organs via a rare disorder.

Conclusion

Monoclonal Gammopathy is referred to as a benign condition. Usually, it does not cause any complications during a patient’s lifetime. As a result, no treatment may be necessary in the majority of cases. Patients diagnosed with MGUS are advised to take a blood and urine test every 6 months. These tests help to determine the levels of immunoglobulins in the blood. Consequently, these reports help to monitor the intensity and spread of the disease. 

MGUS, in rare cases, can transform into different types of white blood cell cancers. This further strengthens the case for regular monitoring of the disease. Any abnormal growth in MGUS can be treated in this manner.