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Hospital Visits Help Predict Myeloma Risk

Hospital Visits Help Predict Myeloma Risk

Wednesday, 6 November, 2019 - 07:45
A cancer cell (white) being attacked by two cytotoxic T cells (red), part of a natural immune response triggered by immunotherapy. (Reuters)

According to a British research presented at the 2019 NCRI Cancer Conference in the UK on Monday, a condition that can progress to myeloma could be identified in patients by their unusually frequent hospital visits.

Myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells found in the bone marrow, and many other organs such as major bones including the pelvis, spinal cord and rib cage.

The study carried out by researchers at the University of York found that people with a pre-cancerous blood condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) made around twice as many visits to hospital as other people of the same age.

During this condition, an abnormal protein known as "monoclonal protein" or the "M protein" is found in blood. This abnormal protein is fabricated in the bone marrow, mainly in the smooth tissue that produces blood and forms the center of most bones.

Although myeloma is almost always preceded by MGUS, MGUS is rarely spotted. So, the researchers say this finding could help ensure myeloma is diagnosed at the earliest possible opportunity when the likelihood of successful treatment is highest.

In a report published on Monday by the National Cancer Research Institute, lead author Dr. Maxine Lamb, said: "MGUS is a benign condition that doesn't have obvious symptoms. It is usually only diagnosed incidentally when doctors are investigating other problems, so around 90% of cases remain undiagnosed."

"In the majority of people, this condition doesn't progress to cancer. However, virtually all people with myeloma, as well as a proportion of patients with some types of lymphoma, had MGUS before their cancer developed. That's why we're interested in spotting this condition, based on how often people visited clinics and hospitals because of some seemingly unrelated problems," she added.

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