Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia

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Waldenström is a slow-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. As with all cancers, getting this diagnosis can feel scary. You'll want to find treatment that can give you confidence and hope.

At UVA Health, we offer advanced treatments for Waldenstrom. We're always working to develop new therapies that target and destroy cancer. And we have decades of experience in treating cancers that grow in blood cells.

Treating Waldenstrom

Waldenstrom lymphoma causes a certain type of white blood cell to grow out of control. It also creates large amounts of a protein antibody. This protein, called monoclonal immunoglobulin M (IgM), thickens the blood.

Specialized & Personalized Therapies

The treatments you'll find at UVA Health address this cancer right where it starts. Immunotherapy uses monoclonal antibodies to find and destroy cancer cells. And a targeted therapy called a proteasome inhibitor can prevent tumor growth.

See more info on lymphoma treatments.


Your body can create too many extra antibodies in your blood in reaction to cancer. This can slow circulation. We can remove the extra antibodies from your blood. We do this by separating out and removing your plasma, where the antibodies live. We then give you donated plasma or a plasma replacement.

We also offer standard cancer treatments. We use the latest approaches to make them as effective as possible. These include:

  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Combined chemo with other anticancer drugs and steroids, to reduce swelling

Treatments Through Clinical Trials

You can also look to see if we have any open clinical trials. These research studies tend to offer the newest, most effective cancer treatments.

Search lymphoma clinical trials.

Is it Waldenstrom Lymphoma?

Most patients with Waldenström macroglobulinemia have no signs or symptoms. But see a doctor if you have:

  • Painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, groin, or stomach
  • Fever for no known reason
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Rash or itchy skin
  • Pain in the chest, abdomen, or bones for no known reason
  • Easy bruising or bleeding, such as nosebleeds or bleeding from the gums
  • Vision changes, such as blurred vision or blind spots
  • Dizziness
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness, especially in the hands, feet, fingers, or toes
  • Confusion
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side

You'll want a diagnosis that uses advanced techniques to know if and what you have.

Getting a Diagnosis

To find and diagnose this lymphoma, your doctor may take and test blood or tissue samples.

We may look for signs of cancer by :

  • Checking for lumps or anything unusual in your body
  • Testing your blood and urine for certain antibodies
  • Performing a test to see if your blood has thickened
  • Measuring blood cell amounts, shapes, sizes, etc. (We do this with a lab test called flow cytometry.)
  • Looking at samples of bone marrow, blood, and bone collected with a needle biopsy
  • Examining spinal fluid, collected with a spinal tap or lumbar puncture
  • Inspecting lymph node tissue
  • Reviewing organ tissue, obtained using laparoscopy or laparotomy
  • Comparing cancer cells to normal cells, looking for markers that tell us which blood cancer you have