What are monoclonal gammopathies?
Monoclonal gammopathies are a group of disorders characterized by the existence of a clone, which are genetically identical cells, of B lymphoid cells in the later stages of maturation that produce homogeneous immunoglobulin, called paraprotein or monoclonal component.
Within monoclonal gammopathies there are two main groups: on the one hand, malignant monoclonal gammopathies and, on the other hand, monoclonal gammopathies of uncertain significance, which are premalignant disorders.
Monoclonal gammopathies include the following diseases:
- Monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance.
- Multiple myeloma
- Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia
- Primary amyloidosis
Prognosis of the disease
Some studies indicate that some cases progress to multiple myeloma. The only way to establish whether the monoclonal gammopathy is benign or a manifestation of multiple myeloma is by annual monitoring for the abnormal monoclonal antibody.
Symptoms of monoclonal gammopathies
Generally, people with a monoclonal gammopathy experience no signs or symptoms.
However, in some cases, a rash or nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling, may occur.
Medical tests for monoclonal gammopathies
In most cases, the diagnosis of a monoclonal gammopathy is made by chance, when the patient has a blood test for another pathology.
After this test, the specialist may recommend the following tests:
- Imaging tests
- Bone marrow analysis
- More detailed blood tests
What are the causes of monoclonal gammopathies?
The specific cause of monoclonal gammopathy is not known, but according to some studies, genetic changes and environmental triggers may play a role.
In addition, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of developing this type of disorder:
- Age: it is usually diagnosed in men over the age of 70.
- Gender: it is more common in men than in women.
- Family history: if a family member suffers from monoclonal gammopathy, there is an increased risk.
Can it be prevented?
These types of disorders are related to risk factors that, in most cases, cannot be avoided or prevented.
Treatments for monoclonal gammopathies
Monoclonal gammopathies of uncertain significance do not require any type of treatment, although they do require routine check-ups to assess the patient’s state of health.
In case this condition develops into a more serious disease, the expert may recommend more frequent check-ups. Generally, the treatment is with drugs, but if it worsens, it may be necessary to perform a bone marrow autotransplant.
Which specialist treats it?
The expert physician in charge of the treatment of monoclonal gammopathies is the Hematology specialist.