Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia

Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia: Treatment, Causes, Symptoms

What Is Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?

Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In this disease, the cancer cells tend to produce excessive amounts of an abnormal protein known as macroglobulin resulting in numerous symptoms. Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia is known by another name of Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma.

What Is Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?

What Are The Causes Of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?

The exact cause of overproduction of macroglobulin is at present unknown but this overproduction causes the blood to become thickened and makes it more viscous thus making it harder for the blood to flow through narrow blood vessels. Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia is an extremely rare condition and majority of the affected population is above the age of 60 but it has also been noted in some younger people as well, although rarely.

What Are The Symptoms Of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?

Some Of The Symptoms Of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia Are:

  • Gum bleeding
  • Visual impairment with diplopia or decreased vision
  • Cyanotic skin
  • Dizziness
  • Easy bruising
  • Severe fatigue
  • Flank pain
  • Headaches
  • Alteration of mental status
  • Nose bleeding
  • Numbness or tingling of the extremities
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the glands
  • Weight loss.
  • How Is Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia Diagnosed?

  • To confirm the diagnosis a physical examination may be done to observe for any swelling of the spleen or liver. An ophthalmological examination may show retinal hemorrhage.
  • Complete blood count may be done which will show reduced platelets and RBCs in cases of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia.
  • A serum viscosity test can identify the true viscosity of the blood and identify if the blood has become thick.
  • There is also a test called as serum protein electrophoresis which will show increased levels of IgM antibody in cases of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia.

Some additional tests that can be done to confirm the diagnosis of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia are:

  • 24-hour urine protein
  • Serum globulin electrophoresis
  • Immunofixation in urine.

What Are Treatments For Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?

Plasmapheresis is the most trusted mode of treatment for Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia. Plasmapheresis reduces the levels of IgM antibodies and also controls the symptoms that may be caused as a result of thickening of the blood. Medications that may be used in Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia can be steroids or chemotherapy medications. Transfusion may be required in those individual who have low platelets or RBCs.

The overall survival rate for Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia is approximately six years but in some instances an individual may be able to survive for close to 10 years as well.

Complications Of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia

Some Of The Complications Of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia Are:

  • Altered mentation
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Visual impairment.

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