CME Information: Waldenstr€ om macroglobulinemia: 2015 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification, and management CME Editor: Ayalew Tefferi, M.D. Author: Morie Gertz, M.D.

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䊏 Educational Objectives Upon completion of this educational activity, participants will be better able to: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Recognize the importance of the MYD88 mutation in Waldenstr€om macroglobulinemia (WM) and lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. Identify newly introduced agents for the therapy of WM Identify the newly issued therapy guidelines for WM

䊏 Activity Disclosures No commercial support has been accepted related to the development or publication of this activity. CME Editor: Ayalew Tefferi, M.D., has no relevant financial relationships to disclose. Author: Morie Gertz, M.D. discloses lecture honoraria from Celgene, Millenium, Onyx, and Novartis. This activity underwent peer review in line with the standards of editorial integrity and publication ethics maintained by American Journal of Hematology. The peer reviewers have no conflicts of interest to disclose. The peer review process for American Journal of Hematology is single blinded. As such, the identities of the reviewers are not disclosed in line with the standard accepted practices of medical journal peer review. Conflicts of interest have been identified and resolved in accordance with Blackwell Futura Media Services’s Policy on Activity Disclosure and Conflict of Interest. The primary resolution method used was peer review and review by a non-conflicted expert.

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American Journal of Hematology, Vol. 90, No. 4, April 2015



AJH Educational Material


Waldenstr€ om macroglobulinemia: 2015 update on diagnosis, risk stratification, and management Morie A. Gertz* € m macroglobulinemia (WM) is a lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma with Disease Overview: Waldenstro immunoglobulin M (IgM) monoclonal protein. Clinical features include anemia, thrombocytopenia, hepatosplenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, and rarely hyperviscosity. Diagnosis: Presence of IgM monoclonal protein associated with 10% clonal lymphoplasmacytic cells in bone marrow confirms the diagnosis. The L265P mutation in MYD88 is detectable in more than 90% of patients. Risk Stratification: Age, hemoglobin level, platelet count, b2 microglobulin, and monoclonal IgM concentrations are characteristics required for prognosis. Risk-Adapted Therapy: Not all patients who fulfill WM criteria require therapy; these patients can be observed until symptoms develop. Rituximab-based therapy is used in virtually all US patients with WM and can be combined with alkylating agent or purine nucleoside analog (or both). The preferred Mayo Clinic nonstudy therapeutic induction is rituximab, cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone. Future stem cell transplantation should be considered in induction therapy selection. Management of Refractory Disease: Bortezomib, thalidomide, everolimus, ibrutinib, carfilzomib, lenalidomide, and bendamustine have all been shown to have activity in WM. Given WM’s natural history, reduction of complications will be a priority for future treatment trials. C 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Am. J. Hematol. 90:347–354, 2015. V

䊏 Disease Overview The World Health Organization defines Waldenstr€om macroglobulinemia (WM) as a lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma associated with a monoclonal immunoglobulin M (IgM) protein [1]. The clinical manifestations of the disorder are hepatomegaly (20%), splenomegaly (15%), and lymphadenopathy (15%) [2]. The most common presenting symptom is fatigue related to a normochromic or normocytic anemia. The median hemoglobin value at diagnosis is 10 g/dL [3]. Many patients who fulfill the criteria of WM do not require immediate therapy because they are asymptomatic [4]. The overall age-adjusted incidence of WM is 3.8 per million persons per year, with incidence increasing with age. As a comparison, the incidence of amyloidosis is 8 per million persons per year and incidence of multiple myeloma is 40 per million persons per year [5]. The incidence of WM is twice as high in men than in women (5.4 vs 2.7 per million, respectively). Incidence is higher in whites (4.1 per million per year) than in blacks (1.8 per million per year) (CME question 1), and the incidence in white patients has increased in the past 20 years [5]. A study of monoclonal immunoglobulins showed that the M protein isotype in black and white patients was 2% and 16% IgM, respectively. The median M protein concentration for blacks was 0.44 g/dL, whereas it was 1.2 g/dL in whites. Black patients less commonly have IgM monoclonal gammopathy compared with white patients [6]. Median age at diagnosis is 63 years for blacks and 73 for whites [7]. The presence of the monoclonal IgM protein adds a unique dimension to the disorder because it can result in hyperviscosity syndrome [8], peripheral neuropathy [9], hemolytic anemia [10], and immune complex vasculitis [11]. The 10-year survival rate is now 66% [12]. In a population-based study of 1,555 patients with WM and lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, 5-year relative survival improved significantly over time from 57% in 1980 to 78% in 2005. Survival improvements were seen in all age groups, although increasing age was associated with inferior survival [13]. The management of peripheral neuropathy associated with IgM monoclonal protein (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy [CIDP]) remains frustrating for clinicians. Amyloidosis needs to be excluded when an IgM monoclonal protein is seen with neuropathy, particularly if the light-chain isotype is k. The mechanism of the neuropathy is thought to be demyelination due to direct binding of the antibody to myelin-associated glycoprotein. The treatment of IgM-associated peripheral neuropathy can be similar to that of WM. In one study [14], 4 of 5 patients treated with fludarabine and rituximab showed a major hematologic response, with markedly improved neurologic symptoms and electrophysiologic findings. No relapses were reported during a follow-up of 12 to 45 months.

Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Abbreviations: CIDP, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; IgM, immunoglobulin M; MGUS, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance; mTOR, mammalian target of rapamycin; R-CHOP, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone plus rituximab; WM, Waldenstr€ om macroglobulinemia Conflict of interest: Nothing to report. *Correspondence to: Morie A. Gertz, MD, Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail: [email protected] Contract grant sponsor: Celgene Corporation (Summit, New Jersey), Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company (Cambridge, Massachusetts), The Binding Site Group Ltd (Birmingham, United Kingdom), Onyx (San Francisco, California), Novartis (Basel, Switzerland) (M.A.G.). Received for publication: 2 December 2014; Accepted: 16 December 2014 Am. J. Hematol. 90:347–354, 2015. Published online: in Wiley Online Library ( DOI: 10.1002/ajh.23922 C 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. V


American Journal of Hematology, Vol. 90, No. 4, April 2015



Gertz TABLE I. Definitions of IgM-Related Phenomenon in Macroglobulinemia

MGUS Smoldering macroglobulinemia IgM-related disorder (eg, cold agglutinin hemolytic anemia, type II cryoglobulin, neuropathy, amyloidosis) Macroglobulinemia

IgM Monoclonal Component

Symptoms of Tumor Mass/Infiltration (Adenopathy Anemia)

Marrow 0Infiltration >10%

IgM-Mediated Symptoms

1 1 1

2 2 2

2 1 6

2 2 1





Abbreviations: IgM, immunoglobulin M; MGUS, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance; 1, positive; 2, negative; 6, equivocal.

䊏 Diagnosis In the original description of WM, Jan G€osta Waldenstr€om [15] described 2 patients with oronasal bleeding, lymphadenopathy, anemia, thrombocytopenia, and an elevated sedimentation rate. The disorder is a lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma [1] with a monoclonal pentameric IgM protein [16]. Bone marrow and lymph nodes are infiltrated with pleomorphic B-lineage cells at different stages of maturation [17]. The bone marrow pattern is predominantly intertrabecular [1]. Many patients who fulfill all other criteria for the diagnosis have a presymptomatic phase and may not require therapy [18]. The cells express pan B-cell markers (eg, CD19, CD20) and typically test negative for CD3 and CD103 [19]. The 6q genetic deletion is present in 42% of patients and is associated with an adverse prognosis [20]. Deletion of 6q and 11q and trisomy 4 had adverse effects on survival [21]. Whole-genome sequencing of lymphoplasmacytic cells from patients with WM has been reported [22]. A recurring sequence variant at position 38182641 in chromosome 3p22.2 was identified. A single-nucleotide change from T to C in the MYD88 gene resulted in a leucine-to-proline change at amino acid position 265. Together, these studies demonstrate an important somatic variant in the malignant cells of WM and raise the future possibility of developing specific inhibitors. MYD88 can be detected by polymerase chain reaction in the peripheral blood of untreated patients with WM [23]. CXCR4 is mutated in 30% of patients with WM. In animal models, this mutation predicts resistance to ibrutinib and everolimus [24]. Distinguishing between WM and marginal zone lymphoma can be challenging. MYD88 mutation L265P is specifically associated with WM and IgM monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). MYD88 L265P also is seen in splenic marginal zone lymphoma (4%), mucosa-associated lymphatic tissue lymphoma (7%), and WM (67%-90%) (CME Question 5) [25]. MYD88 L265P cannot be used to differentiate between WM and IgM MGUS, suggesting that the mutation is a precursor event but not the transforming event. MYD88 mutations were observed in 5 of 9 patients with IgM MGUS and in 5 of 6 patients with monoclonal protein levels exceeding 0.5 g/ dL [26]. The mutation is not found in IgM multiple myeloma, and mutation expression is concordant with the extent of bone marrow involvement. Responses after chemotherapy are associated with declines in mutation expression [27]. Patients with mutated MYD88 had significant differences in clinical presentation and a shorter survival compared with patients with unmutated MYD88 [28]. Patients can present with markedly elevated IgM levels and infiltration of the bone marrow in excess of 30% yet still not require therapy because they have no symptoms [29]. Conversely, patients can have low levels of monoclonal IgM protein and minimal clonal marrow infiltration and still require therapy for complications associated with the IgM protein, including amyloid deposition, cold agglutinin hemolytic anemia, and type II mixed cryoglobulinemia—all a consequence of the antibody-binding specificity and protein folding of the IgM protein (CME Question 4) [30]. A classification scheme for WM 348

American Journal of Hematology, Vol. 90, No. 4, April 2015

is provided in Table I. Symptoms can be produced by the tumor mass or the monoclonal protein. The disease is incurable with current therapies. IgM multiple myeloma is a distinct entity; although constituting only 1% of all multiple myeloma cases, it must be distinguished from WM. MYD88 is not mutated in IgM myeloma [31]. Useful clues to the diagnosis of multiple myeloma include the presence of lytic bone lesions (rare in WM) and a translocation at t[11,14] (does not occur in WM). Patients with IgM multiple myeloma tend to have plasmacytic differentiation with high expression of CD138 and cytoplasmic immunoglobulin, whereas WM tends to express CD20 [32]. The monoclonal IgM proteins are found in 1 of 600 patients older than 50 years [33]. The overall age-standardized rate of WM is only 5.5 per 1 million persons per year [34]. Far more patients have IgM MGUS than have WM. However, all patients with IgM MGUS require lifelong monitoring because the risk of transformation into an overt lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma is approximately 2% per year and is somewhat higher when the immunoglobulin free light chain ratio is abnormal [35,36]. Yet patients with IgM values greater than 3,000 mg/dL may have no symptoms, a normal hemoglobin value, and no clinically important increase in serum viscosity. In these instances, observation continues to be an appropriate option. The Box lists the recommended diagnostic tests for a patient with suspected WM. Response in WM is defined by reduction in the M protein. If the M protein is not easily measurable, then the quantitative IgM level can be used. Both IgM and M protein, measured by serum protein electrophoresis, correlate well with each other and with overall disease activity [37]. A minor response is an M-spike reduction of at least 25%. A partial response is defined as a 50% or greater reduction in M protein. A very good partial response is a 90% reduction in M protein, and a complete response is immunofixation negativity in the serum. An update of the criteria for response assessment recently was published [38]. There may be discrepancies between IgM levels and bone marrow response. The involved serum free light chain is a useful marker of tumor measurement and shows earlier response and progression than the intact IgM, presumably because of its shorter half-life in the serum. The immunoglobulin free light chain assay, which is quite valuable in myeloma, has not been well established in WM. It is not required for serial monitoring of patients with WM [39,40]

Risk stratification Since WM is a distinct lymphoproliferative process with unique cell surface and genetic characteristics, the International Prognostic Index [41] and the Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index [42] are not used to determine prognosis. Table II gives the currently accepted international staging system for WM [43]. The 5 criteria shown in Table II are not weighted equally. Age has a profound impact on prognosis. By definition, patients older than doi:10.1002/ajh.23922

ANNUAL CLINICAL UPDATES IN HEMATOLOGICAL MALIGNANCIES 65 years cannot be in a low-risk category. Although IgM protein levels are important prognostically, they do not enter into the staging system until the IgM level exceeds 7,000 mg/dL. Investigators have suggested that response rates to single-agent rituximab therapy decline when the IgM concentration exceeds 5,000 mg/dL [44]. In the largest study of single-agent rituximab therapy for WM, the IgM level did not affect response rate [45]. Lactate dehydrogenase is absent from the International Prognostic Scoring System for Waldenstr€om Macroglobulinemia [46]. Elevations in the serum lactate dehydrogenase level, although having no impact on the outcome for patients of low or intermediate risk, are able to divide high-risk patients into 2 subgroups with significantly different outcomes [47,48]. The International Prognostic Scoring System for Waldenstr€om Macroglobulinemia is to be used only for patients who require treatment. The system should not be used to determine whether a patient requires intervention; this determination continues to be a clinical decision [4]. The value of this scoring system has been validated in patients treated with rituximab [49]. Serial measurements of b2 microglobulin are not contributory. Because patients with WM have an indolent disease course and often are of an advanced age, nearly half of all patients succumb to diseases of the elderly, unrelated to WM. The impact of age on overall survival was investigated in 238 patients with WM [50]. Using the age cutoff of 65 years, the study showed that the poorest survival of patients older than 65 years at diagnosis was attributable to the higher number of non–WM-related deaths. Cause-specific survival has been introduced as an important outcome measure. This statistical technique censors patients who die of causes unrelated to the malignancy and accounts for the competing risks of death that these patients face [46]. Patients with WM have greater overall risk of a second malignancy that is 1.69 times higher than expected (P=.002) [51]. Compared with the general population, patients with WM appear to have a higher risk of large cell lymphoma, myelodysplasia, and brain cancer [52].

䊏 Management Hyperviscosity syndrome Hyperviscosity syndrome is seen in an ever-decreasing proportion of patients with WM because WM is being diagnosed earlier [53]. Symptomatic hyperviscosity is rare in patients with an IgM concentration less than 4,000 mg/dL, and viscosity measurements are not required in patients whose IgM levels are below that threshold [54]. The symptoms of hyperviscosity are due primarily to shear forces that rupture unsupported venous channels. As a consequence, the presentation generally includes epistaxis, gingival bleeding, and visual changes due to retinal hemorrhage. Central nervous system findings, including dizziness, light-headedness, and generalized fatigue, are nonspecific and should not be attributed automatically to hyperviscosity syndrome in the absence of other signs or symptoms. Reference serum viscosity is 1.8; water has a viscosity of 1. Hyperviscosity syndrome should not be suspected unless the serum viscosity exceeds 4 [55]. When hyperviscosity is present, plasma exchange is a validated treatment technique but should be considered a temporizing measure until systemic therapy successfully lowers the tumor mass and thereby reduces the IgM protein concentration in the serum [56,57]. Longterm plasma exchange rarely is required and usually is used in patients who have relapsed refractory disease, for whom adequate cytoreductive therapy no longer exists.

Systemic chemotherapy to reduce tumor mass Rituximab is a widely available treatment for the management of WM. Its lack of long-term toxicity, lack of impact on the mobilizadoi:10.1002/ajh.23922

Update on Waldenstr€ om macroglobulinemia

tion of peripheral blood stem cells, and nonmyelosuppressive treatment profile have led to its incorporation in most therapeutic regimens for this disorder. Deep responses can be predicted by polymorphisms in FCGR3A [58]. However, rituximab alone is generally a poor choice for patients in need of therapy. Including both minor (25%-50% reduction of M protein) and objective (>50% reduction of IgM protein) responses, the response rate to rituximab (4,000 mg/dL On the basis of clinical presentation, analysis involves Coombs test (cold autoantibody) and cryoglobulin or tissue stains for amyloid deposits Of myeloma patients, 1% have IgM, and their disorder behaves like other multiple myeloma [32] Hepatitis B and C screening is necessary if rituximab therapy is planned

€m TABLE II. International Prognostic Scoring System for Waldenstro Macroglobulinemia Factor Associated With Prognosis Age, y Hemoglobin, g/dL Platelet count, No./mcL b2-Microglobulin, mg/L Monoclonal IgM, g/dL

Risk Category Low Intermediate High


>65 11.5 100,000 >3 >7 Risk Stratum and Survival Scorea

Median Survival, mo

0 or 1 (except age) 2 or age >65 y >2

142.5 98.6 43.5

Abbreviation: IgM, immunoglobulin M. a One point is assigned for each positive factor and the risk score is the sum of points. Adapted from Morel et al [43]. Used with permission.

not reached in the fludarabine arm vs 69.8 months in the chlorambucil arm; P=.01) [70]. Ten-year follow-up data are available on the use of single-agent fludarabine in the treatment of WM [71]. Durable responses have been seen with fludarabine, even as a single agent. In that study, 98 patients with no more than 1 risk factor had an 8-year survival estimate of 55%, compared with 33% among the 51 patients with 2 risk factors (P

Waldenström macroglobulinemia: 2015 update on diagnosis, risk stratification, and management.

Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is a lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma with immunoglobulin M (IgM) monoclonal protein. Clinical features include anemia, t...
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