CNB accurately diagnoses lymphoma in most instances but increases the risk of erroneous or nondefinitive conclusions.
Systematic expert review highly contributes to a precise lymphoma diagnosis, especially in cases sampled by CNB.
According to expert guidelines, lymph node surgical excision is the standard of care for lymphoma diagnosis. However, core needle biopsy (CNB) has become widely accepted as part of the lymphoma diagnostic workup over the past decades. The aim of this study was to present the largest multicenter inventory of lymph nodes sampled either by CNB or surgical excision in patients with suspected lymphoma and to compare their diagnostic performance in routine pathologic practice. We reviewed 32 285 cases registered in the French Lymphopath network, which provides a systematic expert review of all lymphoma diagnoses in France, and evaluated the percentage of CNB and surgical excision cases accurately diagnosed according to the World Health Organization classification. Although CNB provided a definitive diagnosis in 92.3% and seemed to be a reliable method of investigation for most patients with suspected lymphoma, it remained less conclusive than surgical excision, which provided a definitive diagnosis in 98.1%. Discordance rates between referral and expert diagnoses were higher on CNB (23.1%) than on surgical excision (21.2%; P = .004), and referral pathologists provided more cases with unclassified lymphoma or equivocal lesion through CNB. In such cases, expert review improved the diagnostic workup by classifying ∼90% of cases, with higher efficacy on surgical excision (93.3%) than CNB (81.4%; P < 10−6). Moreover, diagnostic concordance for reactive lesions was higher on surgical excision than CNB (P = .009). Overall, although CNB accurately diagnoses lymphoma in most instances, it increases the risk of erroneous or nondefinitive conclusions. This large-scale survey also emphasizes the need for systematic expert review in cases of lymphoma suspicion, especially in those sampled by using CNB.
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