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Diagnosing Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia (WM)?

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Most people are diagnosed with Waldenstrom's macroglobulinaemia following a series of tests outlined below. However a quarter of people are diagnosed by chance while having investigations for another condition, or a routine blood test.

WM is diagnosed using the following tests: 

  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • CT scan

Blood tests

Various blood tests will be done to identify levels of the protein IgM, red and white blood cells, and platelets. Because IgM is a large molecule, it is often difficult to monitor the amount of protein accurately. You may be told the total IgM level or just the level of the abnormal IgM paraprotein. Both are helpful, but it is important to be consistent during follow up so that you and the doctor can monitor levels effectively.

Bone marrow biopsy

Since WM is a disease of the bone marrow, samples of the bone marrow are needed to confirm whether you have WM and the level of the disease. A bone marrow biopsy involves taking samples from the back of your hip bone (pelvis).

CT (computed tomography) scan

This is a special type of x-ray that is used to find out whether WM has affected your lymph nodes, or organs such as the liver or spleen. A number of pictures are taken from different angles and fed into a computer which shows detailed pictures of the inside of the body.

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