Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the B cells, a type of white blood cells. Large amounts of a protein called immunoglobulin M (IgM or macroglobulin) are made by the lymphoma cells. Increased amounts of this protein in the blood can cause the blood to thicken (hyperviscosity syndrome) and lead to problems with circulation, such as decreased blood flow to organs like the brain or eyes. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes in neck, armpit and groin. There can be skin rash or severe fatigue.
HOW IS LYMPHOPLASMACYTIC LYMPHOMA DIAGNOSED?
The general physician will check for regular blood tests and chest x-ray to diagnose the condition. Biopsies, bone marrow aspiration, bone scan, ultrasound and other tests are recommended to identify the severity of the condition and the stage of the cancer.
HOW IS LYMPHOPLASMACYTIC LYMPHOMA TREATED?
There is currently no known cure for Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma. Several treatment options exist to prevent or control symptoms of the disease, and to destroy the tumour cells that make the abnormal IgM protein. It often develops slowly, so treatment may not be needed straight away. People without symptoms are generally managed by the 'watch and wait' (also called Active Monitoring) approach. Once symptoms develop or the disease progresses, chemotherapy is used to treat the disease. This may include FCR (fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab). Treatment that stimulates the immune system to fight cancer, biological therapy, is also being used as a treatment option. People presenting with high levels of IgM and hyperviscosity syndrome are likely to undergo plasmapheresis. Other treatments may include surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy), red blood cell transfusions, radiation therapy, clinical trials, and stem cell transplantation.
DID YOU KNOW?
Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma is also called Waldenstrom’s disease.