S-phase fraction, an index of cellular proliferation, and DNA ploidy were measured by DNA flow cytometry in a retrospective study of lymph node biopsy specimens from 83 cases (before treatment) of follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Working Formulation categories B and C. The correlations between these measures and survival, clinical stage, symptoms and histopathological factors were investigated. Aneuploidy was rare (n = 16) and had no effect on length of survival or transformation to high grade lymphoma. The overall mean S-phase fraction was 3.6%; for the whole series increasing S-phase fraction was associated with decreased survival. A high S-phase fraction (more than 5%) in initial biopsy specimens was also associated with an increased risk of subsequent high grade transformation at relapse. There was no difference between the survival or proliferative activity of tumours composed of mainly small cleaved cells compared with those composed of mixed small and large cells. There was no difference in survival or proliferative activity between tumours showing a pure follicular growth pattern and those with a mixed follicular and diffuse growth pattern. Multifactorial analysis showed that an S-phase fraction of more than 5% and B symptoms were the most important factors determining survival in these follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.
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