Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia

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Treating Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia TOPICS

How is Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General information about treatment

Once Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM) has been diagnosed, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. Your options may be affected by factors such as your age and general health and the type of symptoms you are having.

Not everyone with WM needs to be treated right away. People who do not have serious or bothersome symptoms can often be watched closely, with treatment starting at a later time if it is needed (see “When to treat people with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia”).

If treatment is needed, there are several types that can be used for WM:

The 2 main ways to treat WM are chemotherapy and different types of biological therapy (immunotherapy). Depending on the situation, one or both of these types of treatments might be used.

In recent years, much progress has been made in treating people with WM. A number of newer drugs have been found to work against WM, but few studies have compared them to see which ones are best. Because of this, there is no single standard treatment used for all patients.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options and their possible side effects with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. In choosing a treatment plan, consider your health, your symptoms, and what you hope to get from treatment. Be sure that you understand all the risks and side effects of your treatment options before making a decision.

Based on your treatment options, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:

  • A hematologist: a doctor who treats disorders of the blood, including lymphomas such as WM
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

If time permits, it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion. Getting a second opinion can give you more information and help you feel confident about the treatment plan you choose. Your doctor should be willing to help you find another cancer doctor who can give you a second opinion.

The next few sections describe the types of treatments used for WM. This is followed by a discussion of the typical treatment options for someone with WM.

Last Medical Review: 06/19/2013
Last Revised: 06/19/2013