Send to

Choose Destination
Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2003 Dec;16(4):561-82.

Classification systems for acute and chronic leukaemias.

Author information

Department of Immunology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Dr Molewaterplein 50, 3015 GE, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Modern classification systems for acute and chronic leukaemias are based on cytomorphology, cytochemistry, immunophenotyping, immunogenetics and molecular cytogenetics. Morphology forms the initial diagnosis of leukaemia, but generally is not sufficient to identify biologically and clinically relevant subsets within the main categories of leukaemia. Immunophenotyping precisely defines the lineage and stage of differentiation of malignantly transformed haematopoietic cells. This is usually sufficient for precise classification of mature lymphoid malignancies, although immunogenetic and (molecular) cytogenetic studies might be helpful to confirm the diagnosis of disseminated non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. However, certain categories of disease that are clearly defined by cytomorphology and immunophenotyping, particularly acute leukaemias, are still heterogeneous, mainly owing to different underlying leukaemogenic events. Immunophenotyping can reveal subgroups highly suggestive of certain chromosome aberrations but reliable identification of such aberrations requires cytogenetic or molecular studies. Such combined diagnostic information forms the basis of current WHO classification of tumours of haematopoietic and lymphoid tissues. This will be complemented in the near future with novel criteria revealed by microarray gene expression profiling. This chapter summarizes and comments on the currently used immunophenotypic classification systems of acute and chronic leukaemias and on the added value of molecular diagnostics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center