Significance of the Asymptomatic Disease MGUS to Veterans’ Advocates
This article addresses the question “Why should Veterans’ advocates care that Agent Orange exposed Veterans are over twice as likely as unexposed Veterans to be diagnosed with the generally asymptomatic disease MGUS?” Recent research by scientists at the NIH, CDC, and others that showed that MGUS is significantly more prevalent in Agent Orange exposed Veterans is described in a previous post. Why is this a big deal?
Findings of recent research by Mayo Clinic scientists that answer our question are presented in Table 1 below. This research quantified the percentage of Mayo Clinic patients with either of the two major biologic subtypes of MGUS (IgM MGUS and non-IgM MGUS) who progressed to each of five diseases that are on the current presumptive Agent Orange list over a 34 year period.
Significantly, lifelong monitoring of patients with MGUS showed that almost one in six (16.2 percent) of IgM MGUS patients and more than one in eleven (9.4 percent) of non-IgM MGUS patients progressed to an Agent Orange disease during the study period. IgM MGUS patients were 13.1 times more likely and non-IgM patients were 8.3 times more likely to be subsequently diagnosed with the deadly Agent Orange disease AL (light chain) amyloidosis compared to a general population served by the Mayo Clinic.