Macroglobulinemia and denstromycin is a rare type of cancer that affects white blood cells.
If you have this disease, your bone marrow will produce too many abnormal white blood cells, crowding out healthy blood cells. Deformed white blood cells secrete a type of protein that accumulates in the blood, upsetting the circulatory balance and causing some nodules.
Macroglobulinemia and denstroma are considered a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is sometimes called lymphoma and plasmacytoid lymphoma.
What Are the Symptoms of Waldenström Macroglobulinemia?
Denstrom’s macroglobulin develops slowly and may not show signs or symptoms for many years. If signs and symptoms occur, they include:
• Easy bruising in different parts of the skin
• Nose and gum bleeding
• Weight loss
• Numbness in hands and feet
• Shortness of breath
• Blurring of consciousness, confusion
When Should You Go to the Doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent signs and symptoms that worry you.
What Causes Waldenström Macroglobulinemia?
Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia has no clear cause.
Doctors know that the onset of the disease is the result of errors (mutations) in the genetic code made by an abnormal white blood cell. These errors are what allow the cell to divide rapidly.
Because cancer cells do not mature and die like normal cells, they accumulate and eventually overshadow the production of healthy cells. In your bone marrow — the soft blood-producing tissue that fills the center of most of your bones — Waldenstrom’s MGG cells work to replace healthy blood cells.
Waldenstrom’s Mgglobulin cells continue to produce antibodies as healthy white blood cells do, but instead produce abnormal proteins that the body cannot use. The immunoglobulin M (IgM) protein builds up in the blood, blocking blood flow and causing further complications.
What Are the Risk Factors for Waldenström Macroglobulinemia?
Factors that may increase the risk of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia include:
• Aging: Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia can occur at any age, but is most common in adults 65 years and older.
• Gender: Men are more likely to have Waldenström macroglobulinemia.
• Skin Color: White people are more likely to develop the disease than people of other ethnicities.
• Having a family history of lymphoma: If you have a relative diagnosed with Waldenstrom Mgglobulinemia or another type of B lymphoma, you may be at high risk.
How Is Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Diagnosed?
Tests and procedures used to diagnose the presence of macroglobulinemia and denstroma include:
Blood tests: Blood tests can reveal a decrease in the number of healthy blood cells. Blood tests are used to detect immunoglobulin M proteins produced by cancer cells.
Blood tests can also measure organ function to tell your doctor whether IgM routines are affecting organs such as the kidneys and liver.
Taking a sample of bone marrow for testing: During a bone marrow biopsy, your doctor uses a fine needle to remove some bone marrow from your thigh bone. The sample is checked for cancer cells. If any cancer cells are detected, advanced laboratory analysis can help your doctor understand the characteristics of the cancer cells, including genetic mutations.
Imaging tests: Medical imaging tests help your doctor determine whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Imaging tests may include computed tomography (CT) scans or positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Treatment Methods
Treatment options for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia may include:
• If you find M-immunoglobulin proteins in your blood but do not have any signs or symptoms, you may choose to wait before starting treatment. Your doctor may recommend blood tests every few months to monitor your condition. You can live for years without needing other treatments.
• Plasma exchange: If you develop signs and symptoms of having too much M-immunoglobulin protein in your blood, your doctor may recommend a plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) to remove the proteins and replace them with healthy blood plasma.
• Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that kills rapidly growing cells, such as abnormal blood cells caused by Waldenstrom’s serum macroglobulin. Chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other drug treatments as initial therapy for people with signs and symptoms of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. High-dose chemotherapy may also be used to suppress bone marrow production in preparation for a bone marrow transplant.
• Targeted therapy: Targeted therapeutic drugs kill cancer cells by focusing on specific abnormalities present in cancer cells that allow them to survive. Targeted therapeutic drugs can be used alone or in combination with other drugs, such as chemotherapy or biologic therapy, as in the initial treatment of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia or in the case of cancer recurrence despite treatment.
• Biological therapy: Biological therapy drugs use your immune system to kill cancer cells. Biological therapy can be used alone or in combination with other drugs as initial therapy or as treatment for recurrent Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
• Bone marrow transplant: Bone marrow transplant, also known as stem cell transplant, can be used to treat Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. During this procedure, high-dose chemotherapy is used to destroy the diseased bone marrow. Healthy stem cells are infused into your body where they can regenerate healthy bone marrow.
Preparing for Your Doctor’s Appointment
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
If you are diagnosed with denstrom globulinemia, you will likely be referred to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of bone marrow and blood disorders (hematologist) or a doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer (oncologist).
It’s a good idea to be well prepared, as appointments can be short and there is usually a lot to discuss. Here is some information to help you prepare and know what to expect from your doctor.
What can you do?
• Write down your symptoms: If you have signs and symptoms that indicate you have an illness or are not feeling well, write these details down before your appointment. Your doctor should also know when you first noticed these symptoms and if they have changed over time.
• Make a list of medications you take: Include all medications you take, both prescription and over-the-counter, as well as all vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies.
• Take a family member or friend with you: Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone accompanying you may remember something you missed or forgot.
Questions to ask your doctor
Questions to ask your doctor at your first appointment include:
• What can cause symptoms or illness?
• Are there any other possible causes?
• What tests might I need to go through?
• What would you suggest for next steps in determining diagnosis and treatment?
• In the meantime, are there any restrictions I should follow?
Questions to consider if your doctor refers you to a specialist include:
• Do I suffer from hypoglobulinemia and denstroma?
• What are the goals of treatment in my case?
• Which treatment would you recommend?
• Is it necessary to start treatment immediately?
• I have different health problems. Can I get the best treatment for them together?
• What are the possible side effects of the treatment?
• What do we try next if the first treatment fails?
• Am I a candidate for a bone marrow transplant?
• What is the future outlook for my disease?
In addition to the questions you’ve prepared to ask your doctor, don’t be afraid to ask questions when there’s something you don’t understand.
Questions your doctor may ask you
Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. Thinking through your answers in advance can help you get the most out of your appointment. Your doctor may ask the following questions:
• What are your symptoms, if any?
• When did you first start experiencing symptoms?
• Have your symptoms changed over time?
• Have you been diagnosed or treated for another disease?
• What medications do you take?
Writer: Omer ERIS