What is Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia?Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is an uncommon type of white blood cell cancer. This is a type of cancer of white blood cells in which there excessive proliferation of white blood cells, these cancer cells synthesizes large amounts of an abnormal protein called macroglobulin or IgM. Excessive accumulation of this protein in the blood causes symptoms of easy bruising, vision, and nervous system problems.
Disease EpidemiologyIn males, it predominates slightly. The average age of development of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is 65 years. This is more common among the white population.
Disease Etiology (Causes)There is no known etiology. Older age, having a family history of lymphoma (white blood cell cancer), and male gender are certain risk factors for the development of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
Signs and SymptomsThe patient may suffer from the following signs and symptoms. These are;
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Bleeding from nose
- Changes in vision
- Enlargement of lymph nodes
- Enlarged spleen
- Pain and numbness in hands and feets
- Pink or red colour skin lesions
- Unintended or unexplained weight loss
DiagnosisThe following diagnostic tests and procedures can be used to make a diagnosis. These are
- Complete blood count (CBC) with peripheral smear
- Immunoglobulin levels: This test is used to detect the different antibody levels in the blood
- Beta -2 Microglobulin levels; this is a protein produced by cancer cells, the higher its level, the worse the prognosis (the outcome of the disease) will be.
- Fine needle aspiration and cytology
- Bone marrow biopsy
- Flow cytometry
- Radiological techniques such as CT-scan, MRI, PET-scan, X-ray, and USG to see the sites and extent of the tumour.
TreatmentIn asymptomatic cases, there is no treatment required just active monitoring and follow-up is the only requirement. In symptomatic cases, there are the following treatment options. These are;
- Plasma exchange or plasmapheresis is used to decrease the blood thickness due to excessive production of IgM and to reduce the symptoms.
- Target therapy
- Bone marrow transplantation