Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is a low-grade lymphoproliferative disorder characterized by the presence of an immunoglobulin M monoclonal protein in the blood and monoclonal small lymphocytes and lymphoplasmacytoid cells in the marrow. The disease is uncommon and there is a lack of clear diagnostic criteria. WM is treatable but not curable and long-term survival is possible. Therefore, the treating physician needs to carefully balance the risks and benefits of treatment. Treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms resulting from marrow infiltration and the hyperviscosity syndrome. Therapies available for initiation of treatment include alkylating agents, purine nucleoside analogs, and rituximab. Chlorambucil has been the mainstay of treatment for many years and remains useful, especially in older patients. Rituximab has become an important new therapy for this disease because of its positive treatment responses, acceptable toxicity, and lack of therapyassociated myelosuppression and myelodysplasia. Currently, rituximab is being combined with chemotherapy. Other options of treatment include interferon and corticosteroids. Emerging therapies include stem cell transplantation (autologous and allogeneic) for younger patients. Currently, there are few comparative data on which to state an absolute opinion concerning the best available treatment for patients with WM.
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References and Recommended Reading
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