Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

New treatments and Targeted therapy. As explained in the Treatment Options section, targeted therapy can block tumor growth in different ways.

  • Alemtuzumab (Campath) is being studied for its ability to locate and destroy tumor cells or to deliver other substances to the tumor cells than can destroy them without harming normal cells.
  • Bendamustine (Treanda) is a chemotherapy treatment that can be used to treat Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia when it is first diagnosed or when it returns. Bendamustine, when combined with rituximab, is as effective as more aggressive chemotherapy combinations in clinical trials.
  • Bortezomib (Velcade) is a type of targeted therapy approved for multiple myeloma called a proteasome inhibitor, targeting specific enzymes called proteasomes that digest proteins in the cells. Bortezomib and other proteasome inhibitors, such as carfilzomib (Kyprolis), and oprozomib are being studied for the treatment of Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia.
  • Other drugs that target how B-cells develop are also being evaluated for patients with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia. Idelalisib inhibits PI3 kinase, which is involved in B-cell growth, and is being evaluated for a variety of B-cell cancers, including Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia. The drugs everolimus (Afinitor) and temsirolimus (Torisel), as well as drugs called histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, such as panobinostat, are also being looked at as treatments for Waldemstrom’s macroglobulinemia.

Drug combinations. Drugs are being used in combination to treat Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia:

  • Monoclonal antibodies, such as rituximab, which are described in the Treatment Options section, are being used along with chemotherapy as a way to eliminate more cancer cells.
  • The drug fludarabine combined with cyclophosphamide is sometimes used to treat patients with advanced and/or symptomatic Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, as is another combination of drugs called DTPACE (cisplatin [Platinol], dexamethasone [multiple brand names], doxorubicin [Adriamycin], cyclophosphamide, etoposide [Toposar, VePesid]), and thalidomide [Synovir, Thalomid], plus rituximab.
  • Bortezomib, dexamethasone, and rituximab are being studied in combination to treat Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More about the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.