A case-control and family study of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia
Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (WM) is a rare disorder of lymphoid and plasma cells characterized by an immunoglobulin M (IgM) monoclonal gammopathy, clinical and immunopathologic similarities with other lymphoproliferative neoplasms, but the etiology of which is unknown. We undertook the first case-control study of this disorder among 65 cases, comprising 87% of all WM patients diagnosed during 1969-1983 in the greater Baltimore, Maryland area. Compared with 213 hospital controls without cancer, cases were slightly better educated, but there were otherwise no differences in sociodemographic factors, history of prior medical conditions, medication use, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, specific occupational exposures, employment in any particular industries or occupations, or familial cancer history. Cases were more likely than controls to have first-degree relatives with a history of pneumonia, diphtheria, rheumatic fever, and diabetes mellitus. An exploratory evaluation of immunologic profiles of first-degree relatives of 48% of families of cases revealed that relatives of two cases had asymptomatic IgM (> 750 mg/dl) monoclonal gammopathy and close to 40% of the 109 evaluated had diverse immunologic abnormalities. Larger population-based case-control studies are needed to further evaluate the suggestive evidence of immune dysfunction among families of WM cases.