Fast Five Quiz: Can You Diagnose Waldenström Macroglobulinemia?

Emmanuel C. Besa, MD


March 13, 2019

Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is a rare B lymphocytic subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Approximately 2800 cases of WM are diagnosed each year in the United States. Worldwide, WM is estimated to have an incidence of approximately 3-4 million patients per year. Although the exact etiology of WM is unknown, reports have linked this chronic, slowly evolving malignant hematologic disease to genetic, environmental, and viral factors.

WM typically presents in elderly patients; the median age at diagnosis in the United States is 65 years. WM is more common in men than women, and the disease disproportionately affects white, non-Hispanic patients. Thanks to newer therapies, the median survival rate of patients with symptomatic WM is > 7-10 years.

Although WM has an indolent disease course, disease progression can lead to serious sequelae from hyperviscosity syndrome (HVS); coagulation abnormalities; peripheral neuropathy; increased risk for infection; and organ damage from immunoglobulin M (IgM) deposits in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, spleen, and other organs.

Unfortunately, the nonspecific clinical presentation of weakness, anorexia, and weight loss associated with WM can prevent timely diagnosis and treatment in this vulnerable patient population.

Can you recognize presenting exam findings, diagnostic features, and treatment options for WM? Test your knowledge with this short quiz.


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