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Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance


Disease: Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance
Category: Other Diseases
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Disease Definition:

Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is the condition in which there is an abnormal protein (monoclonal protein or M protein) in the blood. Only a small number of people are affected by this condition. MGUS is benign and usually causes no problems. However, in a few cases, it could progress to other disorders over decades, including some forms of cancer.

A person should have annual checkups to monitor the level of M protein in his/her blood in the case of having MGUS, because predicting who will develop a more serious disease is difficult. Monoclonal gammopathy doesn't require treatment if there's no increase in the protein.

Close monitoring means that problems can be diagnosed and treated early when monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance does progress.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Signs and symptoms are rarely caused in the case of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. Usually by chance, when one has a routine blood test for another problem, the condition is detected.


Some of the antibodies that help the body fight infection are produced by plasma cells, which make up about 1% of the cells in bone marrow.

When these cells produce an abnormal protein called monoclonal protein (M protein), monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance occurs.

The protein isn't harmful in the majority of people with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. However, it crowds out healthy cells in the bone marrow and can damage other tissues in the body when too much M protein accumulates.

It doesn't appear that family members of someone with this condition are more likely to develop it, although genetic makeup may play a role in this condition.

The risk of MGUS may increase due to the following factors:

This condition is more likely to happen in blacks than in whites.
In men, MGUS is more common.
As one gets older, the risk of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance increases. About 5% of people age 70 and older and 3% of people age 50 and older have M protein in their blood. However, among adults age 85 and older is the highest incidence.



A more serious condition, such as multiple myeloma or other cancers or blood disorders will develop in about 20% of people with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance.

Even though doctors can determine who has the greatest risk of developing a more serious condition, they can't predict who will go on to develop it. When determining the risk, the doctor takes into account several factors, including:


  • The presence of protein in the urine
  • The number of plasma cells in the bone marrow
  • The amount of M protein in the blood
  • The type of M protein

The longer one has had monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, the more increased his/her risk of developing a more serious condition. Those who develop serious problems do so after 10 years of the initial diagnosis.


To monitor the health of the patient, frequent checkups are likely to be recommended, though monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance doesn't require treatment.

For most people, an annual checkup may be appropriate. However, more frequent checkups may be recommended when someone has a high risk of developing more serious condition.


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