These conditions of the immune system are identified by the rapid production of the immune system’s primary cells, specifically B, T, and natural killer (NK) cells, as well as excess production of immunoglobulins.
These diseases are classified into three sub-categories:
- Lymphoproliferative disorders (LPD’s): These conditions are classified by producing excessive amounts of lymphocytes, or white blood cells.Lymphoma, multiple myeloma, andvarious forms of leukemia are examples of these types of disorders.
- Hypergammaglobulinemia: These conditions are classifiedby the presence of higher than normal levels of immunoglobulin in the blood serum.
- Paraproteinemia: Classified by the presence of higher than normal levels of paraproteins in the blood. Many types of leukemias and lymphomas often cause paraproteinemias.
Signs & Symptoms
The symptoms of these conditions can vary from patient to patient and condition to condition, but the most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Mass in the abdomen
Diagnosis & Treatment
Immunoproliferative disease can be tested with a number of scans, including an MRI, X-ray, or CT/CAT scan, which can show the size and location of existing tumors. An MRI can provide a detailed image of the mass, which can be examined by a specialist later.
Blood scans are also commonly used to diagnose these types of diseases. A specialist will collect and examine a blood sample under a microscope. If certain levels of cells or chemicals are exceptionally high (for example, leukemia causes an abnormally high white blood cell count), that could indicate the presence of a more serious condition.
Depending on the type of condition, the patient may need to undergo many rounds of testing before their physician can make a definitive diagnosis. Additional screens may include drawing samples of bone marrow in order to do a biopsy, the most accurate diagnostic test available.
Treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or any combination of the three. Patients with later-stage leukemia must often undergo a bone marrow transplant in order to replace the cancer-stricken cells.
A patient’s outlook depends largely on what type of immunoproliferative disease they have. Some forms of blood cancers can be highly aggressive and difficult to treat; others are more manageable and patients can anticipate a higher survival rate.