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Am J Clin Pathol. 2013 Jun;139(6):708-12. doi: 10.1309/AJCPLIR4GZWX3XKA.

Pathology consultation on evaluating prognosis in incidental monoclonal lymphocytosis and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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  • 1Dept of Laboratory Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8035, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Clin Pathol. 2013 Aug;140(2):280.


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a monoclonal B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder generally characterized by an indolent clinical course. However, some patients with CLL will have more aggressive disease progression, and identifying that subgroup may be important for early, or perhaps more aggressive, intervention. In addition, monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis is often found on routine laboratory evaluation, and it is important to distinguish this entity from overt CLL. Moreover, since many patients with CLL are discovered incidentally and before significant disease progression, prognostic laboratory evaluation may become increasingly efficacious as therapeutic options replace the older strategy of expectant observation. Prognostication may be especially critical if it correctly identifies patients with early stage CLL who are at high risk of clonal evolution and/ or resistance to chemoimmunotherapy. Laboratory studies include surface CD38 and intracellular ZAP-70 expression by flow cytometry, serum β2-microglobulin, and immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable gene mutational status. Cytogenetics for targeted chromosome alterations may similarly aid in predicting outcome and guiding early intervention. This article concisely reviews the utility of commonly performed prognostic markers and addresses the laboratory evaluation in patients with incidentally discovered early stage CLL.


CD38; Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; IGHV somatic hypermutation; Monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis; Prognosis; Survival; TP53 mutation; ZAP-70

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