To establish whether a combination of morphologic and immunophenotypic criteria could be developed to more precisely define Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) and prognostic factors, we retrospectively assessed the clinical and laboratory features of 111 cases of WM. Bone marrow infiltration by small lymphocytes was documented in each case; and diffuse, interstitial, nodular, and paratrabecular patterns of infiltration were documented in 58%, 32%, 6%, and 4% of cases, respectively. Ninety percent were characterized by a surface immunoglobulin–positive, CD19+CD20+CD5−CD10−CD23− immunophenotype.

The median overall survival from diagnosis was 60 months; univariate analysis revealed the following adverse prognostic factors: older than 60 years, performance status more than 1, platelet count less than 100 × 103/μL (<100 × 109/L), pancytopenia, and diffuse bone marrow infiltration. Associated median survival was 40, 38, 46, 28, and 59 months, respectively. Multivariate analysis revealed age, performance status, and platelet count as prognostically significant, but stratification of patients according to the International Prognostic Index had limited value.

We suggest defining WM by the following criteria: IgM monoclonal gammopathy; bone marrow infiltration by small lymphocytes, plasmacytoid cells, and plasma cells in a diffuse, interstitial, or nodular pattern; and a surface immunoglobulin–positive, CD19+CD20+CD5−CD10−CD23− immunophenotype.

Author notes

Dr Owen is supported by the Annette Fox Leukaemia Research Fund, Bradford, England.