Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or MGUS is a state in which an atypical protein known as a paraprotein or an M protein is present in the blood.1 This protein is created in the plasma cells of the bone marrow. Plasma cells are a kind of white blood cells. MGUS does not cause any problems usually. However, sometimes over time it can lead to other serious disorders like multiple myeloma, lymphoma, amyloidosis etc.
Is Multiple Myeloma A Monoclonal Gammopathy?
When plasma cells make many sets of the same antibody, it is termed as monoclonal gammopathy. People suffering from a multiple myeloma have monoclonal gammopathy. However, all those suffering from monoclonal gammopathy do not necessarily have multiple myeloma; A small number of people suffering from monoclonal gammopathy end up having multiple myeloma.
Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or MGUS is a state in which the atypical plasma cells produce many copies of the same antibody which is known as a monoclonal protein.2 However, these plasma cells do not make an actual mass or tumor and do not lead to any problems that are seen in multiple myeloma.
What Is A Multiple Myeloma?
A multiple myeloma is a name given to the cancer affecting the plasma cells.3 Regular plasma cells are present in the bone marrow and play an important role in the immune mechanism. When the B cells of the lymphocytes react to an infection, they change and become plasma cells. These plasma cells prepare antibodies that help in attacking and killing germs. Plasma cells are present primarily in bone marrow, which is a tissue inside the bones. Normal bone marrow also houses other blood cells like red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
When these plasma cells grow beyond proportions it is known as multiple myeloma. The plasma cells make an atypical protein which is known by many different names like monoclonal protein or M protein or paraprotein. However, there are other conditions that also present with atypical plasma cells but cannot be called multiple myeloma. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or MGUS is one such disorder, which has atypical plasma cells but is not known as a multiple myeloma.
A multiple myeloma presents with low blood counts like anemia (low red blood cells), thrombocytopenia (low platelets), and leukopenia (low white blood cells). Multiple myeloma also presents with fractured bones, more infections, kidney problems etc.
What Is Monoclonal Gammopathy Of Undetermined Significance?
- In this condition, the atypical plasma cells make many sets of the same antibody known a paraprotein. However, these cells do not turn into an actual mass or a tumor and do not lead to any problems that are found in multiple myeloma
- Also, in MGUS, the number of plasma cells is surely increased but, it is still lesser than the cells present in the bone marrow
- MGUS is not a cancer, but it can lead to many serious cancers like multiple myeloma, amyloidosis or lymphoma
Symptoms Of Monoclonal Gammopathy Of Undetermined Significance
Those suffering from monoclonal gammopathy do not usually experience any signs and symptoms
- Some people may at times experience rash or some problems related to nerves
- Some may experience tingling or numbness mostly in limbs
- Some may face issues with their balancing abilities
- This is usually caused because their nerves get damaged due to paraproteins in the blood
- Those who suffer from nerve problems may find it beneficial to visit a neurologist, as this is a specialist who deals with nerve problems
- Since there are no signs and symptoms as such, MGUS is most of the times detected by chance when blood tests are done for other purposes
Those persons who are suffering from Multiple Myeloma have monoclonal gammopathy; however, those having monoclonal gammopathy do not necessarily have multiple myeloma. A small number of people having monoclonal gammopathy may go on to develop other more serious conditions like multiple myeloma, lymphoma, amyloidosis etc.