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Does Screening for MGUS Bring Psychological Benefits? Insights from the iStopMM Study
Posted: Jun 03, 2024
Does Screening for MGUS Bring Psychological Benefits? Insights from the iStopMM Study image
We had the privilege to interview Dr. Jón Þórir Óskarsson, where he presented the Iceland Screens, Treats, or Prevents Multiple Myeloma study (iStopMM): a population-based study and randomized controlled trial (RCT) of follow-up strategies, that evaluates the potential benefits and harms of MGUS screening. 


Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells, and it has two precursor conditions: smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Most patients diagnosed with SMM or MGUS are asymptomatic and monitored closely, but recent studies suggest that initiating treatment early might delay or avoid the progression to multiple myeloma in some cases. 

The iStopMM study is evaluating whether we should screen everyone for MGUS to expand the early treatment options for patients and whether this would improve their overall well-being. 

What is the Psychological Impact of MGUS Screening?

The investigators from the iStopMM trial wanted to make sure that screening everyone for a disease like MGUS wouldn’t do more harm than good to people. To prove that, they did the following:

  1. They contacted 80,759 individuals born in Iceland before 1975, from which 75,422 participants provided samples to be tested for MGUS.
  2. The study diagnosed 3,487 new patients with MGUS. Some patients were notified about the diagnosis, and some of them were not.
  3. They surveyed all patients before and after the test about depression, anxiety, and satisfaction with life and monitored them during the following years. 
  4. After 4-4.5 years, some patients had progressed to more aggressive diseases like multiple myeloma, smoldering myeloma, Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

After analyzing all the survey results over the years, they proved that MGUS screening and diagnosis did not result in any psychological harm, emphasizing the importance of providing patients with clear information and follow-up plans. These results mark a significant milestone in cancer screening, suggesting that early detection of MGUS could lead to improved outcomes and potentially identify earlier or even prevent symptomatic malignancies.  

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If you want to be informed of the latest news on MGUS and smoldering myeloma, have you thought about joining the MGUS/Smoldering Myeloma chapter? This chapter is a place for you to learn, connect with, and support other patients and caregivers on their precursor myeloma journey. It meets every other month.

The author Jimena Vicencio

about the author
Jimena Vicencio

Jimena is an International Medical Graduate who is part of the HealthTree Patient Experience team. She loves learning new things led by her curiosity, playing with her pets, and exercising in her free time.

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