Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (WM) is a rare form of cancer. It begins in plasma cells, which develop from white blood cells known as B lymphocytes, or B cells. Also called lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, WM causes overproduction of a protein called monoclonal macroglobulin (IgM) antibody. High levels of IgM in the blood cause hyperviscosity (thickness or gumminess), which leads to symptoms of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia.
No one knows exactly what causes Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia; however, researchers have identified certain factors that may increase a person's risk of developing it. These risk factors can include:
- Hepatitis C
- A family history of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia.
Not all people with this condition will experience symptoms; however, if they do develop, symptoms may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Severe fatigue
- Weight loss.
Treatment options for Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia may include chemotherapy, biological therapy, and plasmapheresis.
(Click Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia for more information about this uncommon disease, including an in-depth discussion of tests used to diagnose it and research being conducted to better understand WM.)