Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia is a rare type of cancer; specifically it is a type of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia symptoms begins in the B-lymphocytes which are white blood cells. Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma is another name for waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia which is named after Jan Waldenstrom who was a Swedish doctor who identified the disease in 1944.
Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia is a very rare disease with reports showing approximately 1000-1500 new cases occurring each year in the U.S. The causes of waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia remain fairly unknown although recent evidence indicates that changes in DNA may be a cause. Although the causes are unknown several factors are known to increase the occurrence of waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia diagnosis. Age is a factor with most incidences occurring over 50 with the average age being 63. Gender is also a factor in waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia with males almost twice as likely to develop the disease as females. Incidence of the disease is higher in Caucasians and waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia is heredity. (Those who have relatives with waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia or other types of lymphatic cancer are at higher risk).
The cancer cells of waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia are similar to multiple myeloma although there are differences. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells and although waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia has features of plasma cells it has lymphocyte features which are not present in multiple myeloma. The prognosis for waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia sufferers varies.
The lymphoma cells that are present in waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia primarily grow within the bone marrow although they also grow in organs such as the liver and spleen. These lymphoma cells can multiply and thus reduce the number of other blood cells; low levels of red blood cells causes anaemia which makes people tired and weak; whereas a low number of white blood cells makes it harder for the body to fight infection. These are common complaints for patients with waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia.
The abnormal B-lymphocytes caused by waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia also overproduce a protein known as monoclonal immunoglobulin M often shortened to IgM. This overproduction causes a number of other complications for sufferers of waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia such as hyper-viscosity (thickening) in the blood.
Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia Research