This rare form of B-cell lymphoma encompasses one to two percent of all NHL cases and typically affects older adults. A slow-growing type of NHL, lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma arises from mature B-cells that produce antibodies. An overproduction of a certain type of antibody (protein), called immunoglobulin M (IgM), can occur. In these cases, the lymphoma is also referred to as Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia or immunocytoma. Large amounts of IgM in the bloodstream cause thickening of the blood. When the blood gets too thick, it has trouble moving through blood vessels. This causes poor circulation to the brain, leading to stroke-like symptoms. Other symptoms include weakness, loss of appetite, fever, sweats, weight loss, and neuropathy (the sensation of pins and needles). Symptoms of this disease develop over time, usually getting diagnosed in routine blood tests or tests performed for other reasons.
Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma is usually treated with chemotherapy, surgery (such as removal of the spleen), monoclonal antibody therapy, and plasmapheresis. Plasmapheresis is a procedure similar to dialysis that involves filtering the blood to remove excess antibodies, thus thinning out the blood, then injecting it back into the body.