How I treat Waldenström macroglobulinemia

Steven P. Treon


Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is a distinct B-cell disorder resulting from the accumulation, predominantly in the bone marrow, of clonally related IgM-secreting lymphoplasmacytic cells. Genetic factors play an important role, with 20% of patients demonstrating a familial predisposition. Asymptomatic patients should be observed. Patients with a disease-related hemoglobin level less than 10 g/L, platelet count less than 100 × 109/L, bulky adenopathy or organomegaly, symptomatic hyperviscosity, peripheral neuropathy, amyloidosis, cryoglobulinemia, cold-agglutinin disease, or evidence of disease transformation should be considered for therapy. Plasmapheresis should be considered for symptomatic hyperviscosity and for prophylaxis in patients in whom rituximab therapy is contemplated. The use of rituximab as monotherapy or in combination with cyclophosphamide, nucleoside analog, bortezomib, or thalidomide-based regimens can be considered for the first-line therapy of WM and should take into account specific treatment goals, future autologous stem cell transplantation eligibility, and long-term risks of secondary malignancies. In the salvage setting, the reuse or use of an alternative frontline regimen can be considered as well as bortezomib, alemtuzumab, and stem cell transplantation. Newer agents, such as bendamustine and everolimus, can also be considered in the treatment of WM.

  • Submitted May 16, 2009.
  • Accepted July 6, 2009.
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