Hodgkin's lymphoma: Diagnostic difficulties in fine-needle aspiration cytology

Dilip K. Das, Issam M. Francis, Prem Sharma, Sitara A. Sathar, Bency John, Sara S. George, Mrinmay K. Mallik, Zaffar A. Sheikh, Bahiyah E. Haji, Shahed K. Pathan, John P. Madda, Kahvic Mirza, Mahamoud S. Ahmed, Thamradeen A. Junaid

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37 Citations (Scopus)


It is commonly believed that cytodiagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) is much easier than that of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). However, recognition of certain NHL subtypes with Reed-Sternberg (R-S)-like cells and results of immunohistochemical studies point to the contrary. To study the limitations of cytology in diagnosis of HL, fine-needle aspiration (FNA) smears of 130 lymphoma or suspected lymphoma cases were reviewed. Initial and reviewed cytodiagnoses were compared with histopathology in 89 cases. Immunocytochemical and immunohistochemical studies were performed in 56 and 59 cases, respectively. Among histologically diagnosed HL cases, definitive cytodiagnosis of HL (initial as well as reviewed) was significantly less frequent than cytodiagnosis of NHL among histologically diagnosed NHL cases (P = 0.0328 and = 0.0001, respectively). On the other hand, cytologically diagnosed HL/NHL cases were significantly more frequent in the former group (P = 0.0001 and = 0.0018, respectively). ALCL and TCRBCL were the two NHL subtypes which created confusion with HL in FNA smears. Twenty-one cytohistological concordant HL cases and equal number of discordant cases were compared. When compared with discordant group, the patients in concordant group were significantly younger (P = 0.045). Hodgkin/Hodgkin-like cells and typical R-S cells were significantly more frequent in FNA smears of the concordant group (P = 0.0478 and = 0.0431, respectively). Immunocytochemical and immunohistochemical studies showed good correlation with histological diagnosis of HL. It is suggested that proper interpretation of cytologic features, together with use of immunocytochemical parameters can help in reducing the margin of error in cytodiagnois of HL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-573
Number of pages10
JournalDiagnostic Cytopathology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


  • Anaplastic large cell lymphoma
  • Fine needle aspiration cytology
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Non-hodgkin's lymphoma
  • T-cell-rich B-cell lymphoma


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