Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM), also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, is one type of cancer of the lymph system. Like other lymphomas, WM occurs because something goes wrong inside your lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell made in your bone marrow and found in your blood and lymph tissue.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center offers comprehensive treatment for WM from a team of experts.
WM is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma — but a unique type that requires different treatment.
In some people, the large proteins clump in cooler parts of the body — like the tip of the nose, the ears and the fingers and toes — blocking blood vessels and causing pain. You might hear these proteins referred to as cryoglobulins, which means “cold antibodies.”
Amyloidosis can occur if part of the IgM antibody (called the light chain) builds up in organs like your heart and kidneys.
Some people have no symptoms at the time of diagnosis. Instead, their disease is found when they have blood tests for another reason. This is called asymptomatic or smoldering WM.
If your physician suspects you may have WM, they will do a physical exam to look for signs of the disease and ask about your symptoms, medical history, family history and risk factors.
You might also have any or all of these tests:
Treatment for WM differs from treatment for other types of lymphoma and must be tailored to each individual. It’s important to be treated at a specialized center with expertise in WM. But because the condition is rare, many hospitals and clinics do not have much experience with it.
The exact cause of WM is unknown. You may be at higher risk if any of these is true:
Keep in mind that many people who get the disease have none of these risk factors, and most people with these risk factors do not develop the disease.
About 1,000 to 1,500 adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with WM each year.
There are many resources online for learning about your disease. We’ve compiled a list of trusted sources to help you get started.
If you or your caregiver are seeking additional information or resources, Fred Hutch Patient and Family Resource Center is available to help connect you with what you need.
American Cancer Society (ACS): Waldenström Macroglobulinemia
The ACS provides easy-to-read articles on a wide range of Waldenström macroglobulinemia topics, from diagnosis and treatment to finding support and living well after treatment ends. This group has cancer information specialists to answer questions by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
International Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation (IWMF)
he IWMF offers a website for patients as well as physicians and researchers. Patient articles cover details of the disease, like how it is diagnosed and treated and how to live with it. The support section helps patients and families connect with others facing the same disease. There is a library of stories by patients about their experiences.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Waldenström Macroglobulinemia
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provides a longer booklet for people who want to go into more depth about WM signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, side effects and new approaches being studied.