Use of the WHO lymphoma classification in a population-based epidemiological study

J. J. Turner*, A. M. Hughes, A. Kricker, S. Milliken, A. Grulich, J. Kaldor, B. Armstrong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is pathologically diverse. Epidemiological investigations into its increasing incidence and aetiology require accurate subtype classification. Patients and methods: Available pathology reports of 717 cases aged from 20 to 74 years in an Australian, population-based epidemiological study of NHL were reviewed by one anatomical pathologist to assign a World Health Organization (WHO) classification category. High or low confidence was assigned to the diagnosis of NHL, cell phenotype and WHO category and reasons given for low confidence. Results: The most informative biopsy reports were from open tissue biopsy (79% of cases), tissue core biopsy (8%), cytology (4%) and bone marrow (9%); 8% of cases had inadequate biopsies for diagnostic purposes. Immunohistochemistry or flow cytometry reports were available for 96% of cases, gene rearrangement studies for 6% and cytogenetics for 3%. The reviewer assigned high confidence to the diagnosis of NHL in 93% of cases and also the phenotype in 88%. While a WHO classification could be assigned in 91% of cases, confidence was high in only 57.5%; insufficient immunophenotyping as the commonest reason for low confidence. Conclusions: Expert pathology review of a population-based sample of NHL can provide a WHO classification category for most cases. A high level of confidence in the classification, however, would require review of diagnostic material and additional phenotyping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-637
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidemiology
  • NHL subtypes
  • Pathology report review
  • WHO NHL classification


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