Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia: prognosis and management

A Oza, S V Rajkumar
Blood Cancer Journal 2015 March 27, 5: e394
Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM) is a B-cell lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma characterized by monoclonal immunoglobulin M protein in the serum and infiltration of bone marrow with lymphoplasmacytic cells. Asymptomatic patients can be observed without therapy. First-line therapy should consist of the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody, rituximab, given typically in combination with other agents. We prefer dexamethasone, rituximab, cyclophosphamide (DRC) as initial therapy for most patients with symptomatic WM. Other reasonable options are bortezomib, rituximab, dexamethasone (BoRD) or bendamustine plus rituximab (BR). All of these regimens are associated with excellent response and tolerability. Initial therapy is usually administered for 6 months, followed by observation. Response to therapy is assessed using the standard response criteria developed by the International Working Group on Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Relapse is almost inevitable in WM but may occur years after initial therapy. In symptomatic patients relapsing more than 1-2 years after initial therapy, the original treatment can be repeated. For relapse occurring sooner, an alternative regimen is used. In select patients, high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation may be an option at relapse. Options for therapy of relapsed WM besides regimens used in the front-line setting include ibrutinib, purine nucleoside analogs (cladribine, fludarabine), carfilzomib and immunomodulatory agents (thalidomide, lenalidomide).

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