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Related conditions

MGUS

MGUS is the short name for Monoclonal Gammopathy of Unknown Significance.

In MGUS, the plasma cells make too many large protein molecules known as immunoglobulins or paraproteins which show up in the blood.

MGUS does not cause any symptoms, and does not generally affect a person’s health which is why it is often found by chance through blood tests carried out as part of a routine check up, or tests for another medical problem.

MGUS is diagnosed if you have:

Because it does not seem to do any harm or cause problems, MGUS does not need treating. However, some people with MGUS go on to develop myeloma (about 1% each year), so your specialist will see you regularly for check ups. It is most common in people over the age of 70 years old.

Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is really a collection of conditions. An abnormal protein called amyloid is made by plasma cells. The amyloid collects in body organs, such as the kidneys or heart, and gradually causes damage.

About 10 to 15 out of every 100 people with myeloma (10 to 15%) develop amyloidosis. However, it is rare for people with amyloidosis to develop myeloma. You can have amyloidosis without myeloma this is known as primary amyloidosis. Doctors usually treat amyloidosis with chemotherapy, and use the same drugs that are used for myeloma.

Smouldering myeloma

Smouldering myeloma (also known as asymptomatic or indolent myeloma) is an early form of myeloma which usually progresses slowly. In smouldering myeloma abnormal cells and paraprotein can be detected, but patients usually have none of the typical symptoms related to symptomatic myeloma, and generally do not require treatment. Smouldering myeloma patients are monitored regularly for signs and symptoms that may indicate progression to active myeloma

Smouldering myeloma will, at some point, progress to active myeloma. It is difficult to say exactly when this will happen in each individual so it is important that patients are regularly monitored by their doctor and have blood tests to check for any signs of disease progression.

Plasmacytoma

Plasmacytoma is a build up of abnormal plasma cells in either bone or soft tissue. A single (solitary) plasmacytoma is where there is one area of plasmacytoma. Some people have more than one plasmacytoma and this is called multiple plasmacytoma

The areas of plasmacytoma are similar to the areas of plasma cells found in people with multiple myeloma. But people with plasmacytoma don't have other symptoms of myeloma. 

More than half of people with bone plasmacytoma go on to develop myeloma later in life. 

Single and multiple plasmacytomas can grow outside the bone marrow, for example in the head and neck areas. A plasmacytoma that develops outside the bone marrow is called soft tissue plasmacytoma. If the plasmacytoma occurs in soft tissues the outlook is normally a good one and the disease can be eradicated. 

Doctors usually treat plasmacytoma with radiotherapy. You can have myeloma as well as plasmacytomas, this along with multiple plasmacytomas is treated the same as myeloma and will require chemotherapy combinations as well as radiotherapy.

 

Last reviewed: June 2016

Next planned review: June 2018