Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia - Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu.

People with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be another medical condition that is not related to the cancer.

  • Fatigue

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Enlarged lymph nodes or spleen

  • Numbness, weakness or other nervous system problems, pain in the hands or feet, sometimes called peripheral neuropathy

  • Abdominal swelling and diarrhea

  • Weakness and shortness of breath

  • Infections

  • Raised pink or flesh-colored lesions on the skin

  • Changes in the color of the finger tips when exposed to cold

  • Changes in vision, which may include blurry vision or “double” vision

Certain symptoms, called B symptoms, may signal a more aggressive cancer. Doctors may refer to either “A” or “B” when describing the lymphoma.

A means that a person has not experienced B symptoms, listed below.

B means that a person has experienced the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Unexplained fever

  • Heavy sweating, especially at night, that may drench one’s nightclothes or sheets on the bed.

  • Severe and/or extensive skin itchiness

Symptoms of hyperviscosity

IgM proteins are large molecules, and when they accumulate in the blood in high levels, the blood can become viscous or thick. This slows down the flow of blood to different parts of the body. Symptoms of hyperviscosity include:

  • Vision problems, especially blurred or double vision

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness

  • Loss of coordination

  • Headaches

  • Nosebleeds or bleeding gums

  • Fatigue

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.