Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma): Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 10/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the changes and medical problems that can be a sign of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Use the menu to see other pages.

What are the signs and symptoms of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia?

People with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia may experience one or more of the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not cancer.

  • Fatigue

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Enlarged lymph nodes or spleen

  • Numbness, weakness, or other nervous system problems, or pain in the hands or feet, also 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.

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

  • Severe and/or extensive skin itchiness

Symptoms of hyperviscosity

Immunoglobulin M (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 try to understand what is causing your symptom(s). They may do an exam and order tests to understand the cause of the problem, which is called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative care" or "supportive care,” which is not the same as hospice care given at the end of life. This type of care focuses on managing symptoms and supporting people who face serious illnesses, such as cancer. You can receive palliative and supportive care at any time during cancer treatment. Learn more in this guide’s section on Coping with 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.