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Curr Hematol Malig Rep. 2013 Dec;8(4):333-41. doi: 10.1007/s11899-013-0186-x.

WHO classification of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN): A critical update.

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Senckenberg Institute of Pathology, University of Frankfurt, Theodor-Stern-Kai, 60590, Frankfurt, Germany,


Although the revised World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for the diagnosis and classification of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) were defined by a panel of expert hematopathologists and clinicians, controversy has been repeatedly expressed questioning the clinical usefulness and reproducibility of these diagnostic guidelines. In particular, the distinction between essential thrombocythemia (ET), early/prefibrotic primary myelofibrosis (PMF) and initial stages of polycythemia vera (PV) is still a matter of debate. In this context, it has been argued that clinical correlations with histological features were not firmly substantiated. On the other hand, recently published data from independently performed studies have repeatedly validated the reproducibility of the WHO criteria and provided persuasive evidence that discrimination of early/prefibrotic PMF has a significant impact on the risk of myelofibrotic and leukemic transformation. However, as has been explicitly required, the WHO concept is based on the recognition of characteristic bone marrow patterns and a consensus of clinical and molecular data.

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