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Pitfalls in lymphoma pathology: avoiding errors in diagnosis of lymphoid tissues
  1. Bridget S Wilkins
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bridget S Wilkins, Histopathology Department, Second Floor, North Wing, St Thomas' Hospital and King's College, London SE1 7EH, UK; bridget.wilkins{at}


The complexity involved in the histological interpretation of lymph nodes and other lymphoid tissue specimens suspected of harbouring lymphoma is underappreciated. As with other histology specimens, the quality of sections and background information are crucial but so, increasingly, is the appropriate use of immunocytochemistry and a variety of molecular analyses. Within the UK National Health Service, progressive regional centralisation is ongoing, to ensure access to specialist expertise and a full range of testing beyond traditional stains. This is to be welcomed but there remains a need to maintain skills in smaller district hospitals, to ensure lymphoma recognition in unexpected circumstances, to permit clinically useful interim diagnoses when needed urgently and to sustain training in haematopathology among junior pathologists. In this review a range of potential pitfalls in lymphoid tissue pathology is outlined, arising at all stages from specimen preparation to reporting. Knowledge of such pitfalls, some of which are common while others are rare but of vital clinical importance, should help increase confidence in lymphoma diagnosis among histopathologists.

  • Lymph nodes

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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