Hematolymphoid neoplasms in effusion cytology

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Background: Hematolymphoid neoplasms (HLNs) presenting as body cavity effusions are not a common finding. They may be the first manifestation of the disease. A diagnosis on effusion cytology may provide an early breakthrough for effective clinical management. Aims: Study the cytomorphology of HLNs in effusion cytology, determine common types, sites involved and uncover useful cytomorphologic clues to subclassify them. Materials and Methods: Twenty-four biopsy-proven HLN cases with malignant body cavity effusions and 8 cases suspicious for HLN on cytology but negative on biopsy are included in this study. Effusion cytology smears were reviewed for cytomorphological features: Cellularity, cell size, nuclear features, accompanying cells, karyorrhexis, and mitoses. Results: Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (37%) was the most common lymphoma type presenting as effusion followed by peripheral T-cell lymphoma (25%). Pleural effusion (75%) was most frequent presentation followed by peritoneal effusion (20.8%). Pericardial effusion was rare (4.1%). The common cytologic features of HLNs in effusions: High cellularity, lymphoid looking cells with nuclear enlargement, dyscohesive nature, and accompanying small lymphocytes. Mitosis and karyorrhexis were higher in high-grade HLNs when compared to low-grade HLNs. Myelomatous effusion showed plasmacytoid cells. Very large, blastoid looking cells with folded nuclei, high N: C ratio, and prominent nucleoli were seen in leukemic effusion. Conclusion: HLNs have characteristic cytomorphology and an attempt to subclassify them should be made on effusion cytology. Reactive lymphocyte-rich effusions cannot be distinguished from low-grade lymphomas based on cytomorphology alone. Ancillary tests such as immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry, and/or molecular techniques may prove more useful in this regard.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01-01-2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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