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  • Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is an indolent B-cell neoplasm resulting from the accumulation, predominantly in the marrow, of a clonal population of lymphocytes, lymphoplasmacytic cells, and plasma cells, which secrete a monoclonal immunoglobulin (Ig) M.

  • WM corresponds to lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma (LPL) as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) classification.

  • Most cases of LPL are WM. Less than 5% of cases are IgA-secreting, IgG-secreting, or nonsecreting LPL.


  • The age-adjusted incidence rate of WM in the United States is 3.4 per 1 million among males and 1.7 per 1 million among females.

  • The incidence rate is higher among Americans of European descent. Americans of African descent represent approximately 5% of all patients.

  • Approximately 20% of patients are of Eastern European descent, specifically of Ashkenazi-Jewish ethnic background.

  • Approximately 20% of 257 sequential patients with WM presenting to a tertiary referral center had a first-degree relative with either WM or another B-cell disorder.


Immunophenotypic Profile

  • The characteristic immunophenotypic profile of WM lymphoplasmacytic cells includes the expression of the pan–B-cell markers CD19, CD20 (including FMC7), CD22, and CD79. Expression of CD5, CD10, and CD23 can be present in 10% to 20% of cases, and their presence does not exclude the diagnosis of WM. Multiparameter flow cytometric analysis has also identified CD25 and CD27 as being characteristic of the WM clone.

Somatic Mutations

  • MYD88L265P and CXCR4WHIM mutations are highly prevalent and trigger transcriptional factors that support the growth and survival of lymphoplasmacytic cells.

Cytogenetic Findings

  • Loss of all or part of chromosomes 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, X, and Y is commonly observed, and gains in chromosomes 3, 4, and 12 also occur.

  • Chromosome 6q deletions encompassing 6q21–25 have been observed in up to half of WM patients.


  • Presenting symptoms most commonly are fatigue, weakness, weight loss, episodic bleeding, and manifestations of the hyperviscosity syndrome.

  • Physical findings include:

    — Lymphadenopathy

    — Hepatosplenomegaly

    — Dependent purpura and mucosal bleeding

    — Dilated tortuous retinal veins

    — Multiple flesh-colored papules on extensor surfaces (deposits of IgM reacting to epidermal basement membrane antigens)

    — Peripheral sensory neuropathy

    — Raynaud phenomenon, especially on exposure to cold

    — Splenomegaly and lymphadenopathy (uncommon)

Morbidity Mediated by the Effects of IgM

  • Table 70–1 lists the physiochemical and immunologic properties of the monoclonal IgM protein.


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