Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia: Symptoms and Signs

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

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 on the side of your screen.

People with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer.

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes or spleen
  • Weakness, numbness, or other nervous system problems, painful feet, sometimes called neuropathy
  • Abdominal swelling and diarrhea
  • Weakness and shortness of breath
  • Infections
  • Raised, fleshy-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 cancer overall.

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. Most patients report that either their nightclothes or the sheets on the bed are actually wet.
  • 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
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds and bleeding gums
  • Fatigue

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, 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 helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.