Classification Schemes Based On Immunophenotyping

Analogously to the morphology-cytochemistry-based leukemia classification (FAB) system, early immunophenotype-based classification schemes attempted to fit leukemic immunophe-notypes into established stages of normal hematopoietic differentiation. Such an approach ignores the fact that phenotypic alterations are due to underlying molecular, disease-specific aberrations. This explains its limited usefulness, which is restricted to diagnosis, and in fact, its counterproductivity concerning the progress of immunophenotyping beyond mere diagnostic goals toward the recognition of prognostic pheno-types, which in turn may lead to phenotype-specific therapies.

Heterogeneity of antigen expression in the acute leukemias offers the valuable opportunity to discover associations of particular antigen profiles either with cytogenetic-molecular aberrations that carry prognostic significance or with clinical outcome independent of other biologic parameters. In both AML and the ALL, cytogenetic-molecular categories are now being recognized as distinct disease entities, such as AML with t(8;21) or ALL with t(9;22).6 This emphasizes the importance of recognizing associations between immunophenotypic features and

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