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Cancer. 2003 Dec 25;99(6):385-93.

Evaluation of interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization for the t(14;18)(q32;q21) translocation in the diagnosis of follicular lymphoma on fine-needle aspirates: a comparison with flow cytometry immunophenotyping.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



Diagnosing lymphoproliferative disorders on fine-needle aspiration (FNA) can be challenging due to variable cellularity and lack of architecture. Ancillary studies often are required for diagnosis. Follicular lymphoma (FL) is characterized by a monoclonal B-cell proliferation with coexpression of CD19/CD10 and a t(14;18)(q32;q21) reciprocal translocation, resulting in the immunoglobulin heavy chain/BCL-2 fusion gene. These features also can be found, with much lower frequency, in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) of follicle center cell origin. The objective of the current study was to compare the accuracy in detecting FL and DLBCL of follicle center cell origin by interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (I-FISH) versus flow cytometry immunophenotyping (FCM) on FNAs.


Concurrent testing by FISH for t(14;18)(q32;q21) and FCM was performed on 84 FNAs, including 40 FLs and 44 non-FLs (de novo DLBCLs, mantle cell lymphomas, small lymphocytic lymphomas/chronic lymphocytic leukemias [SLLs/CLLs], small B-cell lymphomas, and reactive lymphoid hyperplasias). The final diagnosis was rendered based on the combined information from cytomorphology, FCM, FISH, immunocytochemical staining for Ki-67, monoclonality for kappa and lambda light chains, and, if available, corresponding tissue biopsy, cytogenetic analysis, and polymerase chain reaction analysis.


Among 40 FLs, FISH produced positive results for the t(14;18) translocation in 85.0%, negative results in 7.5%, and insufficient results in 7.5%; whereas, with FCM, 75% of cases exhibited a CD19-positive (CD19+)/CD10+ population (28 monoclonal, 2 nonclonal), 12.5% of cases exhibited a CD19+/CD10-negative population (3 monoclonal, 2 nonclonal), and 12.5% of cases were insufficient. All of nonclonal results from FCM and all of the insufficient results from FCM analysis exhibited unequivocal t(14;18) translocation by FISH. In contrast, the three negative results and the three insufficient results from FISH were monoclonal and CD19+/CD10+ on FCM. The results from FISH and FCM were concordant in 75% cases. Of 44 non-FLs, FISH produced positive results for the t(14;18) translocation in 5 DLBCLs and 2 SLLs/CLLs. The latter showed single fusion signals just above the cutoff level. All cases in the non-FL group that failed to show clonality or had insufficient results from FCM were DLBCLs. Among 17 DLBCLs, FISH detected a t(14;18) translocation in 29.4%, whereas FCM demonstrated a CD19+/CD10+ population in 23.5%.


I-FISH for the t(14;18)(q32;q21) translocation provided high overall accuracy in detecting FLs on FNAs. This test can be used for diagnosing or monitoring FL on FNAs when cellularity is limited or when FCM results are noncontributory. For detecting a follicle center cell origin in DLBCLs, I-FISH for the t(14;18) translocation appeared to be slightly more sensitive than FCM for the CD19+/CD10+ immunophenotype.

Copyright 2003 American Cancer Society.

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