Macroglobulinemia of Waldenstrom is a cancer of the B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It is associated with the overproduction of proteins called IgM
Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia; Macroglobulinemia – primary; Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia is a result of a condition called lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. The cause of the overproduction of the IgM antibody is unknown, but researchers believe it is made by lymphoma cells.
Overproduction of IgM causes the blood to become too thick. This is called
About 1,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia every year. Most people with this condition are over age 65, however, it may occur in younger people.
Bleeding of the gums Blurred or decreased vision Dizziness
- Easy bruising of the skin
Mental status changes
Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in the hands, feet, fingers, toes, ears, or nose Rash Unintentional weight loss Vision lossin one eye
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:
Bluish skin discoloration Fingers that change color upon pressure Flank pain Swollen glands
Signs and tests
A physical examination may reveal a
A test called serum protein electrophoresis shows an increased amount of the IgM antibody. Levels seen in Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia are generally greater than 3 g/dL.
Bone lesions are very rare. If they are present, a
Additional tests that may be done:
urine protein Total protein
- Serum globulin electrophoresis
Immunofixation in urine T (thymus derived) lymphocyte count
Plasmapheresis removes unwanted substances from the blood. In macroglobulinemia, it removes or reduces the high level of IgM, and is used to quickly control the symptoms caused by blood thickening.
Drug therapy may include steroids, Leukeran, Alkeran, Cytoxan, fludarabine, or rituximab, or combinations of chemotherapy drugs.
Patients who have a low number of red or white blood cells or platelets may need transfusions or antibiotics.
The average survival is about 6.5 years. Some people live more than 10 years.
In some people, the disorder may produce few symptoms and progress slowly.
- Changes in mental function, possibly leading to
coma Congestive heart failure
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if symptoms of this disorder develop.