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Waldenstrom's disease


Waldenstrom's disease is a rare disease that affects the bone marrow, namely the place where all the blood cells are produced. It is an abnormal proliferation by the excess secretion by plasma of blood immunoglobulin, a protein playing a role in host defense. It is neither contagious nor hereditary and affects adults aged over 50, with three quarters of the patients being men. The origin of Waldenstrom's disease is still unknown, but some researchers suggest a genetic theory combined with certain infections. The evolution of the disease is slow, but generally fatal.


Waldenstrom's disease manifests itself as follows:
  • problems with blood clotting, blood is thicker and sticky due to the excess of this protein;
  • excessive bleeding;
  • an increase in the volume of the liver (hepatomegaly), spleen (splenomegaly) and lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy or adenomegalies);
  • rarely, sensory disorders due to nerve damage;
  • Fatigue related to anemia, decreased hemoglobin in the blood.


The diagnosis of Waldenstrom's disease is based on clinical signs and is reinforced by laboratory tests done on blood samples: a marker of inflammation, VS, is increased, blood cell count is high and hemoglobin is low. Protein electrophoresis, which separates blood proteins, reveals an isolated immunoglobulin increase. The bone marrow will be affected by a proliferation of certain cells, namely lymphocytes and plasma cells. In the diagnosis is confirmed, other tests will be performed to assess the impact and the evolutionary stage of the disease.


Waldenstrom's disease is treated with drugs, the most common being purine analogues. Symptoms will be treated immediately. A doctor will also collect the patient's plasma to remove a portion of excess protein: this is called plasmapheresis.