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What Is Plasmacytosis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Plasmacytosis is the presence of large numbers of plasma cells in bone or other tissue where doctors would not normally expect to encounter them. This condition can be the result of disease or infection, or it might be a sign of a spreading malignancy. If a doctor identifies plasmacytosis in a patient, he or she might recommend follow-up testing to determine the cause. If necessary, the doctor can provide treatment to address the issue.

One reason the condition develops is the presence of plasmacytoma, a cancer of the plasma cells that causes them to grow out of control. In this case, a pathologist can examine a sample of the cells under a microscope to identify the malignancy. The cells will look different from regular plasma cells and might behave abnormally in culture. If the patient has this type of cancer, treatments can include chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells and to limit their reproduction in the body, thereby preventing recurrence.

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

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

When a doctor identifies plasmacytosis, the patient can ask for information about the situation. The doctor might be able to offer information and advice on the basis of the available data or can explain that more testing is necessary to determine why the patient has plasmacytosis. Doctors are often reluctant to speculate initially, because they do not want to panic or upset patients without due cause; a discussion of potential cancers, for example, would frighten the patient and might be an incorrect speculation, so the doctor might prefer to wait for a pathology report.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By SteamLouis — On Jun 28, 2013

I know that reactive plasmacytosis is due to infection. Does this mean that plasmacytosis is not always a sign of cancer?

By bluedolphin — On Jun 28, 2013

@donasmrs-- Your grandmother has solitary bone plasmacytoma right? I guessed it from the neck pain you mentioned. I had solitary bone plasmacytoma two years ago. I received treatment and my blood tests have been coming back normal since. I still take pain relievers from time to time, but it's not a big deal.

Plasmacytoma usually affects the neck and throat. What happens is that plasmacytosis in bone starts damaging the bone and leads to a lot of pain there.

You should talk to your grandmother's doctor about what's awaiting her, but I'm guessing that she will receive radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is very successful for this type of plasmacytoma because the abnormal plasma cells are usually concentrated in one area and can easily be destroyed and controlled with radiation.

There is a small risk that the plasma cells will spread to other areas, such as bone marrow an cause bone marrow plasmacytosis. If that happens, chemotherapy might be necessary. I pray that your grandmother will be fine.

By donasmrs — On Jun 27, 2013

I just found out that my grandmother has plasmacytoma. A week ago, she was diagnosed with plasmacytosis and now a biopsy revealed that she has plasmacytoma.

This was all so unexpected. She had been complaining of severe neck pain for some time. Doctors first thought that she had an injury or maybe arthritis. She had a bunch of tests and scans done and it turned out to be plasmacytosis.

Has anyone here suffered from plasmacytosis, plasmacytoma or other diseases of the cells? What kind of treatments did you receive? Were you able to recover? What can my grandmother expect in the following months and years?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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