Progression Risk Stratification of Asymptomatic Waldenström Macroglobulinemia

J Clin Oncol. 2019 Jun 1;37(16):1403-1411. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.00394. Epub 2019 Apr 16.


Background: Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is preceded by asymptomatic WM (AWM), for which the risk of progression to overt disease is not well defined.

Methods: We studied 439 patients with AWM, who were diagnosed and observed at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute between 1992 and 2014.

Results: During the 23-year study period, with a median follow-up of 7.8 years, 317 patients progressed to symptomatic WM (72%). Immunoglobulin M 4,500 mg/dL or greater, bone marrow lymphoplasmacytic infiltration 70% or greater, β2-microglobulin 4.0 mg/dL or greater, and albumin 3.5 g/dL or less were all identified as independent predictors of disease progression. To assess progression risk in patients with AWM, we trained and cross-validated a proportional hazards model using bone marrow infiltration, immunoglobulin M, albumin, and beta-2 microglobulin values as continuous measures. The model divided the cohort into three distinct risk groups: a high-risk group with a median time to progression (TTP) of 1.8 years, an intermediate-risk group with a median TTP of 4.8 years, and a low-risk group with a median TTP of 9.3 years. We validated this model in two external cohorts, demonstrating robustness and generalizability. For clinical applicability, we made the model available as a Web page application ( ). By combining two cohorts, we were powered to identify wild type MYD88 as an independent predictor of progression (hazard ratio, 2.7).

Conclusion: This classification system is positioned to inform patient monitoring and care and, for the first time to our knowledge, to identify patients with high-risk AWM who may need closer follow-up or benefit from early intervention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asymptomatic Diseases
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Boston
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / genetics
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum Albumin, Human / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia / diagnosis*
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia / genetics
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia / immunology
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia / pathology
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / blood


  • ALB protein, human
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • MYD88 protein, human
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • beta 2-Microglobulin
  • Serum Albumin, Human