Small B-Cell Neoplasms With Typical Mantle Cell Lymphoma Immunophenotypes Often Include Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemias

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Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) are CD5+ small B-cell neoplasms (SBCNs) with overlapping features. Flow cytometric immunophenotyping is often used to help differentiate CLL from MCL, and a characteristic CLL phenotype is considered essentially diagnostic. However, previous studies have not specifically examined how well a typical MCL immunophenotype distinguishes MCL from CLL. We identified 28 cases of SBCN with typical flow cytometry–determined MCL immunophenotypes consisting mostly of peripheral blood and bone marrow specimens. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis indicated that 57% (16/28) had t(11;14) translocations consistent with MCL, while 32% (9/28) lacked t(11;14) translocations but harbored other cytogenetic abnormalities commonly found in CLL. There were no significant morphologic or immunophenotypic differences between the t(11;14)-positive and t(11;14)-negative cases. Our findings suggest that many blood-based SBCNs with typical MCL immunophenotypes likely represent cases of phenotypically atypical CLL, which would have important clinical implications.

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