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Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia

more about Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia

  • Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia is a cancer of the white blood cells (B lymphocytes) which causes too much of a certain type of protein (IgM antibody a monoclonal macroglobulin) to be produced.  This extra protein can make the blood too thick (hyperviscosity) and cause problems.  It usually occurs in those 60 to 70 years old.  Most patients with this disease survive 3 to 5 years, while some can live for more than 10 years.

  • Symptoms include feeling tired, bleeding from the gums or intestines, nausea, dizziness, peripheral Neuropathy (tingling, numbness of the skin), weight loss, or problems with your vision.
  • Some people become confused or even go into a coma.
  • The doctor's physical exam may show a large spleen, a large liver, or enlarged lymph nodes.

  • The cause is not known.

  • Blood tests can show low blood counts (anemia).
  • A special blood test called SPEP (protein electrophoresis) can detect the extra monoclonal protein in the blood.  This is a very good test for this disease.  Urine samples when tested show excretion of Bence-Jones Proteins and urine immunoelectrophoresis will show presence of IgM.
  • A bone marrow biopsy of bone lesions will help confirm the diagnosis by showing abnormal cells (have characteristics of both a plasma cells and lymphocytes).

  • Plasmapheresis, a special process by which the extra protein is removed from the blood, is used to treat those with very thick blood.
  • Some patients are given chemotherapy with drugs such as chlorambucil or cyclophosphamide.
  • Newer drugs are still being studied.
  • In younger patients, a special type of bone marrow transplantation can be used.
  • Anemic or thrombocytopenic (low platelets) may need transfusions of these products

more about Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia

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