Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma): Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2020

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

People with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not 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 fingertips 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.

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, which may drench one’s nightclothes or sheets on the bed.

  • Severe and/or extensive skin itchiness

Symptoms of hyperviscosity

IgM proteins are large molecules. 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

  • Shortness of breath

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 figure 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 be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the 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. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.