Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is a premalignant plasma cell disorder that is associated with a life-long risk of multiple myeloma. We conducted a systematic review of all studies investigating the prevalence and incidence of MGUS in the online database PubMed. The review was conducted from January 6, 2009, through January 15, 2010. The following MeSH search headings were used: monoclonal gammopathy, benign and prevalence; monoclonal gammopathy, benign and incidence; paraproteinemia and prevalence; and paraproteinemia and incidence. Articles were limited to those written in English and published by January 2009. Fourteen studies that met prespecified criteria were included and systematically assessed to identify the most accurate prevalence estimates of MGUS based on age, sex, and race. On the basis of our systematic review, we estimate that the crude prevalence of MGUS in those older than 50 years is 3.2% in a predominantly white population. Studies in white and Japanese populations demonstrate a clear increase in prevalence with age. The prevalence is also affected by sex: 3.7% and 2.9% in white men and women, respectively; and 2.8% and 1.6% in Japanese men and women, respectively. Additionally, MGUS is significantly more prevalent in black people (5.9%-8.4%) than in white people (3.0%-3.6%). We conclude that MGUS is a common premalignant plasma cell disorder in the general population of those older than 50 years. The prevalence increases with age and is affected by race, sex, family history, immunosuppression, and pesticide exposure. These results are important for counseling, clinical care, and the design of clinical studies in high-risk populations.
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