Waldenström Macroglobulinemia

Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM), which is a subtype of lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, is a rare indolent (slow-growing) B-cell lymphoma that occurs in less than two percent of patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). There are about 2,800 new cases of WM diagnosed each year in the United States. The disease usually affects older adults and is primarily found in the bone marrowSpongy material found inside the bones containing stem cells that develop into three types of cells: red blood cells that deliver oxygen to the body and take away carbon dioxide; white blood cells that protect the body from infection; and platelets, although lymph nodesSmall bean-shaped glands located in the small vessels of the lymphatic system. There are thousands of lymph nodes located throughout the body, with clusters of them in the neck, under the arms, the chest, abdomen and groin. Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid, trapping and destroying potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. and the spleen may be involved. Lymphoma cells in the bone marrow grow and block normal cells, making it difficult for the bone marrow to produce normal amounts of red and white blood cells. This can result in anemiaA shortage of red blood cells, causing weakness and fatigue. (low levels of red blood cells), neutropeniaAn abnormally low level of neutrophils. (low levels of white blood cells called neutrophils), and thrombocytopeniaA shortage of platelets in the blood, which reduces the ability of the blood to clot. (low levels of platelets).

Patients with WM have a high level of a protein called immunoglobulin M (IgM) in their blood, which can cause hyperviscosity (thickening of the blood).

To diagnose WM, blood and urine tests are usually performed, as well as a bone marrow biopsyRemoval of a small piece of tissue for evaluation under a microscope..

To learn more about Waldenström Macroglobulinemia, download the Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Fact Sheet.