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Macroglobulinemia of Waldenstrom

  • Definition

    Macroglobulinemia of Waldenstrom is a cancer of the B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It is associated with the overproduction of proteins called IgM antibodies.

    Alternative Names

    Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia; Macroglobulinemia - primary; Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia is a result of a condition called lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. The cause of the overproduction of the IgM antibody is unknown, but researchers believe it is made by lymphoma cells.

    Overproduction of IgM causes the blood to become too thick. This is called hyperviscosity. It occasionally makes it harder for blood to flow through small blood vessels.

    About 1,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia every year. Most people with this condition are over age 65, however, it may occur in younger people.