Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia Treatment and Diagnosis

Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a rare type of blood cell cancer that is characterized by an excess of abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow.

These abnormal cells have characteristics of both white blood cells (lymphocytes) called B cells and more mature cells derived from B cells known as plasma cells and are known as lymphoplasmacytic cells.

Waldenström macroglobulinemia is classified as a lympho
plasmacytic lymphoma due to these cells.

In Waldenström macroglobulinemia, these abnormal cells produce excess amounts of IgM, the largest of a type of protein known as immunoglobulin, and the excessive production of this large protein contributes to the condition’s name (macroglobulinemia).

Signs and Symptoms of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia

Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is slow growing and it can be many years before a person with the condition develops noticeable signs and symptoms. However, when the signs and symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding from the nose or the gums
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness in your hands or feet
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion

Causes of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia

There is no clear cause of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, although it is believed to result from a combination of genetic changes.

The most common known genetic change associated with this condition is a mutation in the MYD88 gene, which is found in more than 90 percent of affected individuals.

Another gene commonly associated with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, CXCR4, is altered in approximately 30 percent of affected individuals.

The proteins produced from the MYD88 and CXCR4 genes are both involved in signaling within cells and the MyD88 protein relays signals that help prevent the apoptosis of cells, thereby aiding in cell survival.

Other genetic changes believed to be involved in Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia have not yet been identified.

Studies have found that certain regions of DNA are deleted or added in some people with the condition.

However, researchers are not sure which genes in these regions are important for the development of the condition.

The variants that cause Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia are acquired during a person’s lifetime and are present only in the abnormal blood cells.


Procedures used to diagnose Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia include

Blood tests

Blood tests are used to detect the IgM proteins produced by the cancer cells, also blood tests can be used to measure your organ functionality which can tell if the IgM proteins are affecting organs, such as your kidneys and your liver. Blood tests may also reveal low numbers of healthy blood cells

Bone marrow biopsy

Collecting a sample of bone marrow for testing requires using a needle to extract some of your bone marrow from your hipbone.

The sample is examined for cancer cells and if any are detected, advanced laboratory analysis can help your doctor understand the cancer cells’ characteristics, including their genetic mutations.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests involve the use of computerized tomography (CT) scans or positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

It helps the doctor know the extent of metastasis. That helps your doctor determine whether cancer has spread to other areas of your body.

Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia Treatment

Observation: Sometimes. If IgM proteins are found in your blood, but you don’t have any signs or symptoms.

Some blood tests may be recommended for you every few months to monitor your condition and you may choose to wait before beginning treatment. And this may go on for a few years without needing further treatment.

Plasma exchange:

There might be a recommendation for plasmapheresis (plasma exchange) from your doctor if you experience signs and symptoms related to having too many IgM proteins in your blood, to remove the proteins and replace them with healthy blood plasma.


This is the use of chemicals or drug treatment to kill growing cells, such as the abnormal blood cells produced by Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.

Chemotherapy may be used alone or combined with other drug treatments as an initial Treatment for people who experience signs and symptoms of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.

High-dose of chemotherapy may also be used to suppress your bone marrow production in preparation for a bone marrow transplant.

Targeted therapy:

Targeted therapy drugs are used to kill cancer cells by focusing on the specific abnormalities present in the cancer cells that allow them to survive.

Targeted therapy drugs can be used alone or combined with other medications, such as chemotherapy or biological therapy, as an initial treatment for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia or in cases where cancer returns despite treatment.

Biological therapy:

Biological therapy also known as immunotherapy is the use of drugs to boost your immune system to kill cancer cells.

Biological therapy drugs can be used alone or in combination with other medications as an initial treatment or as a treatment for recurrent Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.

Bone marrow transplant:

In some highly selected situations, a bone marrow transplant, which is also known as a stem cell transplant, may be used as a form of treatment for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.

During this procedure, high doses of chemotherapy are used to wipe out your diseased bone marrow and healthy blood stem cells are infused into your body where they can rebuild healthy bone marrow.


Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma.

Some patients with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia have a smoldering form that may be surveilled without intervention.

For patients requiring treatment, chemotherapy such as Benda-R therapy can be considered the first-line treatment.

Other chemoimmunotherapy combinations with DRC and BR provide effective and durable responses but are limited by drug-specific toxicities.

Moreover, the recent and promising advances in the understanding of WM biology may expand future initial treatment options.

Egbujor Victor Chinedu
He Is Just A Pro Blogger Who Invests his time in Blogging and Web Designing ... Student, Writer...

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