“Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that can be slow-spreading.”

White blood cells are the starting point for these cancers. Your immune system is made up of cells called Lymphocytes.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that there are between 1,100 to 1,500 cases of Waldenstrom’s disease diagnosed each year in the United States.

The disease is also known as:

  • The macroglobulinemia of Waldenstrom.
  • Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma is a type of cancer.
  • The primary macroglobulinemia is related to the disease.

“Understanding how the body’s immune system works is important to understand the disease.”

The immune system protects you against infections. The B cell is a cell that is also known as alymphocyte.

“B cells are a type of white blood cell that can be converted into a different type of cell called a plasma cell. The body’s immune system makes antibodies that help it fight diseases.”

There is an excess of white blood cells in the bone marrow. The cells are called Lymphoplasmacytic, or WM, and they have characteristics of both the immunodeficiency and the immune system.

IgM is a type of antibody that is produced by WM cells. Your blood will become thicker. Hyperviscosity is a condition that makes it difficult for your organs and tissues to function.

The growth of WM cells can lead to the destruction of healthy blood cells, which can lead to low levels of red blood cells.

White blood cells can be reduced by growth of wm cells, which can make you more susceptible to infections, as well as a reduction in blood platelets, which can lead to increased bleeding and bruised skin.

The symptoms of the disease will vary depending on the severity of your condition. In some cases, people with this condition have no symptoms, and the cancer is only found after a person has a blood test.

“Similar symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be found in the case of Waldenstrom’s disease.”

Some of the symptoms of this disease are common.

  • Weakness and fatigue. This is one of the most common symptoms and is typically caused by anemia or the thickening of the blood due to lgM buildup.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss. Appetite loss is a side effect of WM and can lead to unexplained weight loss.
  • Fever and sweats. WM can cause fevers and drenching night sweats, even if a person doesn’t have an infection.
  • Neuropathy. Numbness or loss of feeling in the feet and legs can happen if abnormal antibodies cause nerve damage outside the brain.

Less common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal bleeding. Excess levels of abnormal igM can damage blood vessels, leading to abnormal bleeding like nosebleeds and bleeding gums.
  • Blood circulation problems. When WM causes hyperviscosity syndrome, thickened blood can cause poor circulation in the brain and body, causing headache, confusion, dizziness, and stroke-like symptoms.
  • Swollen lymph nodes. These appear as lumps under the skin around the neck, groin, or armpits.
  • Swollen abdomen. When WM causes the spleen or liver to become enlarged, the belly may appear swollen.
  • Heart problems. High levels of lgM can damage tissue and muscles in the heart and cause the heart to have to work harder to pump blood, which can lead to congestive heart failure.
  • Kidney problems. High levels of lgM can cauase damage to the kidneys.
  • Digestive symptoms. lgM buildup in the intestines can lead to GI symptoms like diarrhea, bloody stools, and poor absorption of vitamins.
  • Sensitivity to cold. In some people, lgM and other proteins react to cold temperatures to form clumps that block blood flow in areas of the body exposed to cold, leading to pain in the hands and feet or loss of color in fingers and toes exposed to the cold.
  • Vision problems. Excess bleeding or poor circulation around blood vessels inside the eyes may cause blurred vision or blind spots.
  • Infections. High levels of lgM can reduce the body’s ability to produce healthy antibodies, making the body more susceptible to infection.

“Your body produces too much IgM antibodies. The cause of this disease is unknown, but it is believed to be due to genes that are passed down throughout a person’s life.”

Risk factors for Waldenstrom’s disease

“There are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing a disease. Most people who have these risk factors will not develop the disease.”

Risk factors include:

  • Sex. People assigned male at birth are more likely to develop Waldenstrom’s disease than people assigned female.
  • Age. A person’s risk of developing Waldenstrom’s disease increases with age.
  • Race. Research demonstrates that Waldenstrom’s disease has a higher incidence rate among white people than among Black people or other racial groups.
  • Heredity. Researchers have determined that certain genes may play a role in some people who develop Waldenstrom’s disease.
  • Hepatitis C. People with chronic hepatitis C may be more likely to develop Waldenstrom’s disease than people without. But not all studies have found a connection between the two.
  • Some autoimmune disorders. People with certain autoimmune disorders, including Sjögren’s syndrome, may be at an increased risk of developing Waldenstrom’s disease.

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you about your health history to diagnose this disease. Your doctor can check for swelling in your body during the exam.

If you have symptoms of the disease, your doctor may order additional tests to confirm your diagnosis. These tests may include some.

  • To determine your level of IgM, you need to have your blood tested.
  • a bone marrow biopsy
  • CT scans of bones or soft tissue
  • Soft tissue or bones are being X-rays.

CT scan and X-ray of the bones and soft tissues are used to differentiate between Waldenstrom’s disease and another type of cancer called multiple myeloma.

There is no cure for the disease. Treatment can help manage your symptoms.

“The severity of your symptoms will affect the treatment you receive. People who don’t have serious or bothersome symptoms don’t need to be treated immediately.”

If necessary, people who have been diagnosed with the disease should be monitored and treated.

If you have symptoms of the disease, your doctor may recommend a number of different treatments. These include:


Chemotherapy is a treatment that destroys cells in the body that grow quickly. Chemotherapy for Waldenstrom’s disease is designed to attack the abnormal cells producing the excess IgM.

A doctor may give you a pill or a IV in order to give you the treatment. The body can recover from the effects of Chemotherapy in between rest periods.

“Chemo drugs are used to treat Waldenstrom’s.”

  • Alkylating agents: cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), bendamustine (Treanda)
  • Purine analogs: fludarabine (Fludara,) cladribine (2-CdA, Leustatin)
  • Other chemo drugs: vincristine (Oncovin), doxorubicin (Adriamycin)

Chemotherapy drugs can be used in combination with other drugs.

Immunomodulatory agents

“Immunomodulators are a type of treatment that attacks cancer cells by starving them from the body’s blood supply, enhancing immune cells, blocking cancer cell and bone marrow interactions, and directly killing cancer cells.”

This type of treatment is given as an oral medication.

  • Thalomid is a drug that is used for thalidomide.
  • lenalidomide is a drug.
  • pomalyst or actimid is a drug.


Plasmapheresis, or plasma exchange, is a procedure in which excess IgM immunoglobulins in plasma are removed from a person’s blood by a machine. The remaining plasma is then combined with plasma from a donor and returned to the body.

This type of therapy is used in cases of hyperviscosity syndrome, where the blood becomes very thick.

“While plasmapheresis can reduce lgM levels quickly, it doesn’t treat the cause of high levels, so levels will rise again without treatment like radiation therapy.”

It is given to help lower levels until other treatments work.

Biological therapy (Immunotherapy)

Biological therapy is a method of boosting the immune system to fight cancer. It can be used with the drug. There are different types of immunotherapy.

  • Monoclonal antibodies. These are human-made versions of antibodies, which are proteins made by the immune system to fight infection.
  • Immunomodulating drugs. These are thought to fight cancer by boosting the immune system.
  • Cytokines. These are proteins normally made by white blood cells to power your immune system.

Corticosteroids are often given in combination with other therapies to help reduce and prevent allergic reactions.

“Patients with Waldenstrom’s disease are given the most common corticosteroids, such as Prednisone and dexamethasone.”

Targeted drug therapy

“Drug therapies were developed to stop cancer cells from spreading. They target specific genes that cancer cells use to grow and divide, and sometimes work when the drugs don’t.”

Drug therapies that are targeted are examples.

  • “Ibrutinib and Zanubrutinib are Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors.”
  • Bortezomib, carfilzomib, and ixazomib are some of the proteasome inhibitors.
  • mTOR is a drug.

Stem cell transplant

“Stem cell transplants are not a common treatment for Waldenstrom’s disease, but may be an option for younger people when cancer is resistant to other treatments.”

A person can only take a certain amount of therapy before their bone marrow is damaged. This can lead to infections and bleeding.

“Stem cell transplants can help to create new blood cells in a person’s bone marrow, which can be used for more therapy.”

Radiation therapy

“Radiation therapy, which uses beams of high energy radiation to kill cancer cells, is not often used to treat Waldenstrom’s disease. It can be used to shrink a spleen or lymphatic area that has become enlarged.”

Clinical trials

Following your diagnosis, you should also ask your doctor about clinical trials for new medications and procedures to treat Waldenstrom’s disease.

Clinical trials are used to test new treatments or to investigate new ways to use existing treatments.

The National Cancer Institute may be sponsoring trials that will provide you with additional therapies.

Is Waldenstrom’s disease curable?

There are treatments available to help manage the disease, but there is no cure.

Is Waldenstrom’s disease chronic?

“Yes, the disease is chronic. It is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

What are the late stages of Waldenstrom’s disease?

“There is no standard staging system for the disease. Doctors look at a number of factors when determining a person’s progess.”

  • The counts of blood cell counts.
  • age
  • The amount of blood in the person.
  • The amount of blood in the person.

Older people with low blood platelets and anemic are more likely to have a poorer outcome.

How long can someone live with Waldenstrom’s?

According to data from the American Cancer Society collected between 2001 and 2010, people who have Waldenstrom’s disease have an overall median survival of 8 years after starting treatment.

The 5-year survival rates for different risk groups are shown.

  • The low risk group had an 87 percent success rate.
  • The intermediate risk group had a rate of 68 percent.
  • The high risk group had 36 percent.

“You should know that survival rates are based on previous outcomes. They can’t predict what will happen in a particular case.”

Additionally, the 5-year survival rate for Waldenstrom’s disease dramatically increased between the 1980s and 2010s. As treatments improve over time, people may have a better outlook.

The outlook depends on the progression of your condition.

The disease progresses at different rates depending on the person. Those who have a slower disease progression have a longer survival time.

You can get help from your doctor and medical team to treat and manage your symptoms.