Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma) is a type of non-Hodkin lymphoma (NHL). The cancer cells make large amounts of an abnormal protein (macroglobulin).
Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM) is a cancer that starts in B cells. The cancer cells in people with WM are similar to those of 2 other types of cancer: multiple myeloma and non-Hodkin lymphoma. Multiple myeloma is considered a cancer of plasma cells, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of lymphocytes. WM cells have features of both plasma cells and lymphocytes.
Each antibody (protein) made by the WM cells is the same and the buildup of M protein in the body can lead to many of the symptoms of WM.
The WM cells grow mainly in the bone marrow, where they can crowd out the normal cells that make the different types of blood cells. This can lead to low levels of red blood cells (anemia), which can make people feel tired and weak. It can cause low numbers of white blood cells, which makes it hard for the body to fight infection. The numbers of platelets in the blood can also drop, leading to increased bleeding and bruising.
Lymphoma cells can grow in organs like the liver and spleen, causing these organs to swell and leading to abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Fever, sweats, weight loss.
Other problems involve
- Enlarged lymph nodes.
- Swollen abdomen.
- Nervous system symptoms.
- Abnormal bleeding.
- Vision problems.
- Kidney problems.
- Heart problems.
- Digestive symptoms.
- Sensitivity to cold.
The DNA inside our cells makes up our genes with the instructions for how our cells function. We tend to look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA. But DNA affects more than how we look.
Some genes control when cells grow, divide to make new cells, and die at the right time. Certain genes that help cells grow, divide, or live longer are called oncogenes. Others that slow down cell division or make cells die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes. Cancers can be caused by DNA changes that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes.
The DNA changes found in WM cells are usually acquired after birth (not passed on from a parent). Some of them may have outside causes, but often they occur for no apparent reason. They seem to happen more often as we age, which might help explain why WM usually occurs in older people.
Scientists are now learning about the exact gene changes that cause WM. But even though they have found some of these gene changes, they still do not know why these changes occur.
A few risk factors that make a person more likely to develop Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia are the following: age, race, sex, heredity, hepatitis C, and certain autoimmune diseases
The two major late complications of Waldenström's macroglobulinemia are Richter's transformation and myelodysplasia related to therapy. As in all low-grade lymphomas, treated or untreated, a large-cell lymphoma or immunoblastic sarcoma can develop.
Most of the risk factors for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM), such as older age or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), cannot be changed or controlled, so there is no way to prevent cancers that might be related to these risk factors.
Some research suggests that people with hepatitis C might be more likely to develop WM. There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis.