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Am J Clin Pathol. 1999 Jun;111(6):733-40.

Use of peripheral blood blasts vs bone marrow blasts for diagnosis of acute leukemia.

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Section of Hematopathology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030-4095, USA.


Acute leukemia can be diagnosed when blasts constitute 30% or more of the nucleated cells in a patient's peripheral blood (PB) sample. To determine whether in such cases bone marrow (BM) aspirates are still necessary, we compared the results of diagnostic studies performed on PB samples with blast counts of 30% or more with those performed on the same patients' BM samples. We found no differences in morphologic features, cytochemistry, or immunophenotype between the blasts in PB and BM samples in any of 30 cases studied. However, in 10 (23%) of 44 cases in which cytogenetic analysis was performed, PB but not BM samples were insufficient for analysis. The converse never occurred. Five of the 10 cases had acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 5 had acute myeloid leukemia (41% of the patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 17% of the patients with acute myeloid leukemia). In cases with adequate metaphases, there was strong correlation between the cytogenetic results for PB and BM samples. Some PB samples with blast counts of 30% or more are adequate for diagnosis of acute leukemia, especially when therapy can be delayed until it is known that an adequate number of analyzable metaphases are recovered from the PB samples.

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