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Waldenström's macroglobulinaemia

Blood Reviews
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0268-960x(02)00016-4
  • Waldenström'S Macroglobulinaemia
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Chlorambucil
  • Fludarabine
  • Cladribine
  • Rituximab
  • Transplantation
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Waldenström's macroglobulinaemia (WM) is most usefully defined as a distinct chronic lymphoproliferative disorder with characteristic marrow morphology and phenotype; although nodal morphology if available will reveal a lymphoplasmacytoid lymphoma, the presence of a significant IgM paraprotein defines the clinical features of the disease. The clonal cell is a B-cell expressing IgM, CD19, and CD20 but not IgD, CD5, CD10 or CD23 and has somatic hypermutation of immunoglobulin heavy chain variable regions consistent with a post-germinal centre origin. Treatment of WM has been dependent on alkylating agents with or without coriticosteroids for many years, supplemented by the use of therapeutic plasmapheresis in the initial stages for patients at risk from the clinical consequences of hyperviscosity. This approach to treatment results in response rates of approximately 60% with a median survival of about 60 months. There is increasing evidence to show that the purine analogues fludarabine and cladribine which are active in the treatment of patients who are resistant to alkylating agents such as chlorambucil may be able to achieve higher response rates when used as initial therapy. A prospective trial is being undertaken to compare fludarabine and chlorambucil as initial treatment; because of the effect of subsequent active treatment on patients who do not respond to the first treatment choice, the long-term outcome may be similar for both groups. Recent advances in therapy include the use of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab and the use of autologous or allogeneic transplant procedures for selected patients.

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