, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 237-245

Smoldering multiple myeloma and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance

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Opinion statement

Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) consists of the presence of a serum M protein of 30 g/L or more and/or 10% or more bone marrow plasma cells (BMPCs), with no clinical manifestations or symptoms of myeloma. It accounts for approximately 10% of all myelomas, and the median time to progression to a symptomatic multiple myeloma ranges from 2 to 3 years. The main factors for progression are the plasma cell mass (M-protein size and percent of BMPCs), the spinal MRI pattern, the plasma cell proliferative index, and the variant of SMM (“evolving≓ vs “nonevolving≓). Although treatment with thalidomide is promising (based on the results of two phase II trials), outside the context of a clinical trial, a watch-and-wait approach with clinical evaluation every 4 months is recommended until evident symptomatic disease progression occurs. Patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) have a serum M protein lower than 30 g/L and a proportion of BMPCs of less than 10%, with no clinical findings or symptoms attributable to the monoclonal gammopathy. MGUS has a high prevalence, and its annual rate of malignant transformation is 1%, such that the actuarial probability of progression to a symptomatic monoclonal gammopathy at 25 years of follow-up is as high as 40%. The factors associated with a higher probability of malignant transformation are a relatively high plasma cell mass, immunoglobulin A M-protein type, and the “evolving≓ variant. It is recommended that patients with MGUS are monitored annually. Importantly, patients with asymptomatic monoclonal gammopathies must not be treated before the development of overt multiple myeloma.