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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia, Version 1.2017

Cancer basics

Cancer is a disease that starts in the cells of your

body. Cells are the building blocks of tissue in the

body. The human body contains trillions of cells

that serve as these building blocks. Our DNA







cid) controls the cells using

instructions on what to do. The instructions are found

in the DNA—the genetic code that tells cells what

to become (for example, lymph node, thymus, and

spleen) and what to do (make hormones, absorb

nutrients, and kill germs).

Normal cells grow and divide and repeat the process

over and over again. The normal cells are supposed

to die when they become old or damaged. If they

don’t die and new cells start to form, this growth can

get out of control. Then an abnormal growth can form

that is called a tumor.

Solid tumors can grow anywhere in the body. Other

cells can grow out of control in places like the bone

marrow and blood. These cells can interrupt how the

blood cells form but may not form a tumor.

The blood cancers

Cancer is a disease of abnormal cells that can

grow out of control in your body. Cancer can start

anywhere in your body, like in organs (for example,

breast, lung, stomach) or your blood. Blood cancers

(hematologic cancers) can start in the bone marrow

or blood cells. Bone marrow is the soft, sponge-

like tissue in the center of most bones where blood

cells are made. The blood cells are red blood cells

(carry oxygen), white blood cells (fight infection), or

platelets (form blood clots to control bleeding).


Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia Cancer basics

Figure 2

Normal versus cancer cell


Normal cells typically stay where

they are in the body. But cancer

cells can escape from where they

started and move to other parts

of the body—a process called

metastasis. Cancer cells can

travel to distant parts of the body

through the blood or lymphatic

system. When cancer cells settle

into new places in the body they

can replace or damage healthy


Illustration Copyright © 2016 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.