Patients With Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Commonly Present With Iron Deficiency and Those With Severely Depressed Transferrin Saturation Levels Show Response to Parenteral Iron Administration

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Anemia often prompts therapy in Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM), although is not fully explained by bone marrow disease involvement in many patients. Hepcidin regulates gut absorption and distribution of iron and is elevated and associated with anemia in WM. Since hepcidin evaluation remains experimental, we initiated an American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) practice improvement project to determine baseline transferrin saturation (TSAT) levels in untreated anemic patients with WM. Among 108 patients with WM evaluated, 56 (52%) had a TSAT level ≤ 20%, which included 25 (23%) patients with severely depressed TSAT levels (≤ 10%). Sixteen patients with TSAT levels ≤ 10% received parenteral iron, and 14 of these patients showed improved hematocrit values (28.75% to 32.75%; P < .0001), mean corpuscular volume (MCV) (84.7 to 89.9; P = .006), and TSAT levels (8.1% to 21.2%; P < .0001). Anemia in 8 of these patients was previously refractory to oral iron therapy. Routine screening of iron saturation levels may therefore identify patients with WM and severe iron deficiency who may be candidates for parenteral iron therapy.

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