What is plasmacytosis?

Plasmacytosis is the presence of large numbers of plasma cells in bone or other tissues where doctors would not normally expect to find them. This condition may be the result of disease or infection, or it may be a sign of spread of malignancy. If a doctor identifies plasmacytosis in a patient, he or she might recommend follow-up tests to determine the cause. If necessary, the doctor can provide treatment to address the problem.

One reason plasmacytosis develops is the presence of plasmacytoma, a cancer of the plasma cells that causes them to grow uncontrollably. In this case, a pathologist may examine a sample of the cells under a microscope to identify the malignancy. The cells will look different from normal plasma cells and may behave abnormally in culture. If the patient has this type of cancer, treatments may include chemotherapy to kill cancer cells and limit their growth in the body, thus preventing recurrence.

Conditions such as multiple myeloma and cutaneous B-cell lymphoma are also associated with plasmacytosis. In these cases, the patient may experience symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, and swelling along with the high number of plasma cells. Medical evaluation may include imaging studies, analysis of tissue samples under a microscope, and a careful patient interview. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation, and other measures to control the malignancy.

It is also possible to develop plasmacytosis in association with lung infections and certain other conditions. In these cases, the patient could be receiving treatment for the underlying disease. Plasma cell proliferation may indicate that the treatment has not had a chance to work or is not working as well as desired. The doctor may consider the patient's history and treatment to decide how to proceed with other diagnostic and treatment options to resolve the primary disease. Treatment of the cause should resolve the excess plasma cells.

When a doctor identifies plasmacytosis, the patient may request information about the situation. The doctor may offer information and advice based on the available data or may explain that more tests are needed to determine why the patient has plasmacytosis. Physicians are often reluctant to speculate initially, because they don't want to scare or upset patients without due cause; a discussion of possible cancers, for example, would frighten the patient and might be incorrect speculation, so the doctor might prefer to wait for a pathology report.

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