Multiple Myeloma Precancerous Disease and African Americans
According to recent research, a precancerous blood condition may linger for more than 20 years before evolving into multiple myeloma. In addition, the precancerous condition, known as monoclonal gammopathy of underdetermined significance (MGUS), seems to be evident at a younger age and with a higher frequency in African Americans.
“By screening blood from 12,372 individuals between 10 and 50 years of age, we have re-drawn the map of the myeloma precursor disease MGUS,” noted Ola Landgren, MD, PhD, lead study author and Chief of the Multiple Myeloma Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Our results show that MGUS starts with people in their 30s, which is 20 years younger than we used to think.”
In this population-based study from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Dr. Landgren’s team analyzed blood samples from about 4000 African Americans, 4000 Hispanics, 3600 whites, and the remainder from other ethnic groups. The study found that prevalence rates differed greatly across the various ethnic groups. Starting at age 30, African Americans had a rate of MGUS that was close to 1%. By ages 40 to 49, that rate rose to 3.3%. By contrast, previous studies found that the rate of MGUS in whites over age 50 was about 2%.