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Precursor state to bone marrow cancer more prevalent in African-American population

A condition that can lead to a type of bone marrow cancer is more likely to have an earlier age of onset in African Americans, a study finds

A condition that can lead to a type of bone marrow cancer is more likely to have an earlier age of onset in African Americans, a study finds


Picture: SPL

A US study has found that a condition that can progress to some forms of blood cancer is more common in African-American people. 

The condition, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), is a precursor state to multiple myeloma – a type of bone marrow cancer.

Using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers examined prevalence patterns of MGUS across an ethnically diverse population. 

MGUS was found in 63 out of a sample of 12,372 people; 34 were recorded as black; 17 were Mexican American; nine were white and three were ‘other’. 

An earlier occurrence of MGUS was found in people who are black compared with those who are white, with a two-and-a-half-fold increase in incidence among people aged 30-39, and a statistically significant six-fold prevalence in the 40-49 year old age group.

The researchers said that their ‘findings have implications for prognosis, counselling, public health policy and future research. 

‘Clinically, it is important to be aware that multiple myeloma and MGUS have an earlier age of onset in African Americans, and physicians who encounter younger individuals with typical symptoms should consider multiple myeloma as a differential diagnosis.’ 

Landgren OBI, Graubard BI, Kumar S et al (2017) Prevalence of myeloma precursor state monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance in 12372 individuals 10-49 years old: a population based study from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Blood Cancer Journal. doi:10.1038/bcj.2017.97


Compiled by Dion Smyth, lecturer-practitioner in cancer and palliative care, Birmingham City University

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