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Am J Surg Pathol. 2004 Sep;28(9):1240-4.

Detection of BCR/ABL fusion product in normoblasts in a case of chronic myelogenous leukemia.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, and the Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Denver, CO, USA.


Erythroblast phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute erythroid leukemia are rare events. The distinction between these two entities is poorly defined. The World Health Organization (WHO) classification requires the presence of more than 50% of erythroblasts in the bone marrow for the diagnosis of both the erythroid/myeloid or pure erythroid subtypes of acute erythroid leukemia. However, in previous studies of erythroblast crisis CML, the percentage of erythroid series in the bone marrow is seldom mentioned and the direct relationship of the erythroblasts and the Philadelphia chromosome has never been established. We report a well-documented case of acute erythroid leukemia transformed from CML. The studies in morphology, immunohistochemistry, and flow cytometry fulfill the WHO criteria for the diagnosis of acute erythroid leukemia, and yet the complex karyotype containing Philadelphia chromosome indicates genetic evolution. Finally, the direct demonstration of the BCR/ABL fusion product by fluorescence in situ hybridization in the erythroblasts provides concrete evidence that the erythroblasts are part of the leukemic process and not an innocent bystander.

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