The process for identifying patients with monoclonal gammopathies is complex. Initial detection of a monoclonal immunoglobulin protein (M protein) in the serum or urine often requires compilation of analytical data from several areas of the laboratory. The detection of M proteins depends on adequacy of the sample provided, available clinical information, and the laboratory tests used.


To develop an evidence-based guideline for the initial laboratory detection of M proteins.


To develop evidence-based recommendations, the College of American Pathologists convened a panel of experts in the diagnosis and treatment of monoclonal gammopathies and the laboratory procedures used for the initial detection of M proteins. The panel conducted a systematic literature review to address key questions. Using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach, recommendations were created based on the available evidence, strength of that evidence, and key judgements as defined in the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation Evidence to Decision framework.


Nine guideline statements were established to optimize sample selection and testing for the initial detection and quantitative measurement of M proteins used to diagnose monoclonal gammopathies.


This guideline was constructed to harmonize and strengthen the initial detection of an M protein in patients displaying symptoms or laboratory features of a monoclonal gammopathy. It endorses more comprehensive initial testing when there is suspicion of amyloid light chain amyloidosis or neuropathies, such as POEMS (polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, M protein, and skin changes) syndrome, associated with an M protein.

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Author notes

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Expert panel member Harold H. Harrison, MD, died June 6, 2018.

Authors' disclosures of potential conflicts of interest and author contributions are found in the Appendix at the end of this article.

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