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  1. Home /
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  3. Low IgM levels and Cancer

Low IgM levels and Cancer

Understand the link between low IgM levels and cancer, and how it impacts early diagnosis and effective management strategies for health concerns related to immunoglobulin levels.

  • Cancer
By Sakshi More 16th Apr '24 25th Apr '24
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Immunoglobulin M (IgM) plays a crucial role in the body's immune response by being the first defence against infections. Understanding how low IgM levels relate to cancer can help in early diagnosis. It can also aid in managing health risks better. 

These are among the most common primary immunodeficiencies. 

  • The prevalence of specific IgM deficiency (where only IgM is low, without other immunoglobulin deficiencies) is less clear but rare.
  • The risk of cancer is higher for people with IgM deficiencies. It is higher than for the general population. 
  • For lymphomas, the risk can increase up to 25 times, depending on the type of immunodeficiency.

What Happens if Immunoglobulin is Low?

Immunoglobulin M (IgM) is an antibody that plays a key role in the immune system. It's the first antibody your body makes to fight off an infection. It acts as a primary defence against germs like bacteria and viruses. You can find IgM in your blood and lymph fluid, which helps stop infections formed by bacteria and viruses. Understanding IgM's function and levels is important. It helps identify immune system diseases and ensure your immune system works well. Low immunoglobulin levels hamper the body's ability to fight infections. This can lead to more infections. In some cases, it may show hidden health issues. These include immune system disorders and some cancers.

Are you ready to learn more about your immune system? Contact us now!  and get expert advice on how your IgM levels work.

What is the Most Common Reason for Low IgM Levels?

The most common reasons for low IgM levels include:

  • Genetic Immunodeficiency Disorders: Conditions like Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) and Selective IgM Deficiency, where the body produces less IgM.
  • Chronic Illnesses: Diseases such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or other malignancies that affect the bone marrow and reduce antibody production.
  • Medication Effects: Use of certain medications, including immunosuppression and chemotherapy agents, that can inhibit immunoglobulin production.
  • Protein Losing Conditions: Diseases where proteins, including immunoglobulins, are lost excessively from the body, such as protein-losing enteropathy or nephrotic syndrome.

Let us understand more about what this means for your health.

Causes of Low IgM Levels in Cancer Patients

Causes of Low IgM Levels in Cancer Patients

Low IgM levels in cancer patients can be attributed to several factors:

  • Bone Marrow Involvement: Cancers such as leukemia and multiple myeloma that directly affect the bone marrow can impair the production of IgM.
  • Chemotherapy and Radiation: These cancer treatments can suppress the immune system, reducing IgM production.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: These are common in cancer. They can hurt the body's ability to make IgM.
  • Chronic Immune Stimulation: Ongoing immune response to cancer can exhaust resources, including IgM.
  • Medication Side Effects: Some cancer drugs can lower immunoglobulin levels.

What Disease is Related to Low Immunoglobulin Levels?

Disease is Related to Low Immunoglobulin Levels

Diseases associated with low immunoglobulin levels include:

  • Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID): CVID is a disorder. Several immunoglobulins, including IgM, characterize it with low levels.
  • Selective IgM Deficiency: A specific immunodeficiency where only IgM is significantly reduced.
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID): This is genetic. It affects all immune cells and antibodies, including IgM.
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL): CLL is a type of cancer. It can suppress the immune system and hurt immunoglobulin production.
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathy: Conditions causing protein loss through the gut, impacting IgM levels.
  • Nephrotic Syndrome: It is a kidney disorder. It causes excessive protein loss in urine. This loss can include a lot of IgM.

Don't worry we've got you. Book an Appointment today to get expert guidance for your health.

Symptoms of Low IgM Levels

  • Frequent Infections: Increased susceptibility to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness not alleviated by rest.
  • Weight Loss: Unintended weight loss without changes in diet or exercise habits.

Treatment for Low IgM

Treatment for Low IgM

To treat low IgM levels, the approach should be tailored to the underlying cause of the deficiency:

  1. Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy (IRT): This therapy involves IVIG or SCIG infusions. They provide the missing antibodies, which help to bolster the immune system.
  2. Medications: They may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and treat autoimmune conditions. Or, they may include antibiotics to prevent infections.
  3. Lifestyle Adjustments: It can strengthen your immune system. You can achieve this by eating well, exercising often, getting enough sleep, and practising good hygiene. They can help lower the risk of infections.
  4. Regular Monitoring: It requires frequent medical check-ups and blood tests. They need to check the condition and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.
  5. Specialized Consultation: It is a key. You must consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in immunodeficiencies.

What can you do if you're at risk? Don't worry, managing your IgM levels might be easier than you think.
Here are some effective strategies.

Prevention Tips for Low IgM Levels

Prevention Tips for Low IgM Levels

  • Regular health screenings: Get regular health screenings. Schedule routine check-ups. They track immunoglobulin levels and overall health.
  • Balanced diet: Eat a balanced diet. It should be rich in vitamins and minerals. They support the immune system.
  • Adequate Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids to help maintain healthy bodily functions.
  • Vaccinations: Get recommended vaccines to prevent infections. They can be worse for people with low IgM.
  • Good Hygiene Practices: Wash hands regularly. Avoid close contact with sick people. Also, other hygiene measures should be practised to reduce infection risk.
  • Stress Management: Manage stress by doing regular exercise. Stress-reducing practices like yoga or meditation should also be implemented. These habits boost immune health.
  • Avoid Immunosuppressive Substances: Limit exposure to things that weaken the immune system. These include too much alcohol and certain medications. Do this under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Low IgM levels are a big health concern. But, understanding and managing their causes can reduce risks. Regular medical oversight is crucial for those at risk of or experiencing low IgM levels.


  1. Is IgM deficiency serious?

Yes, IgM deficiency can be serious. It weakens the immune system. This makes it less able to fight infections and may cause other health issues.

  1. What is a normal IgM level in adults?

Normal IgM levels in adults range from 40 to 230 mg/dL. The range varies a bit depending on the testing method and patient age.

  1. Can an infection cause low IgM?

Yes, some infections can pause IgM production. The immune system shifts resources to fight the invader.

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This form of cancer causes symptoms such as jaundice, weight loss, and belly pain. It starts when cells near the ampulla of Vater begin growing out of control. Treatment typically involves surgery followed by chemotherapy. You must collaborate closely with her physician to determine the most effective course of action for your mother. Be strong and be there for her during this difficult time.

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When an individual undergoes treatment and the disease fades away, it’s a relief. Nonetheless, there are times when it recurs after going into remission. It is contingent on the kind of malignancy one has as well as the method used for healing it. Signs that can indicate its reoccurrence may be similar to those experienced during the first onset such as unexplained weight loss, fatigue, or formation of new masses. To avoid its resurgence, you need to keep seeing your doctor for regular checkups besides living healthily. 

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