Exfoliative respiratory cytology in the diagnosis of leukemias and lymphomas in the lung

Ricardo H. Bardales, Celeste N. Powers, Henry F. Frierson, Mark J. Suhrland, Jamie L. Covell, Michael W. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Leukemias and lymphomas involving the lung were diagnosed by means of exfoliative cytology in 31 specimens from 20 patients. Initial diagnostic categorizations included 29 specimens 'positive for malignancy,' including two thought to represent 'carcinoma vs. lymphoma,' and two considered suspicious for lymphoma. Previous diagnoses of lymphoma (13 patients) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) (2 patients) were available. In 5 additional patients, exfoliative respiratory cytology yielded the first diagnosis of hematopoietic malignancy. Cytologic diagnosis included nine large-cell and six small-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL), three Hodgkin's lymphomas (HD), and two AML. Key cytologic features included markedly pleomorphic and monomorphic cell populations in HD and NHL, respectively, as well as lack of tumor cell cohesion and necrosis in all cases. Cytologically, acute leukemia may be difficult to differentiate from large-cell NHL, and small-cell NHL from reactive/benign small lymphocytes. Blood, scant cellularity. crush artifacts, and apparent molding may affect diagnostic accuracy. Immunocytochemistry in cell block sections of sputa and washings is useful in the diagnostic workup in selected cases. Although involvement of the respiratory system by leukemias and lymphomas is uncommon and not always preceded by a history of malignancy, cytologic diagnosis is usually prompt, reliable, and accurate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-113
Number of pages6
JournalDiagnostic Cytopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytology
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Leukemia
  • Lung
  • Malignant lymphoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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