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ASCP, CAP and ASH Invite Public Comment on Lymphoma Guideline

Medical practitioners are challenged to diagnose lymphoma on samples of decreasing tissue volume, including fine needle aspirations and needle biopsies. At the same time, increasingly complex diagnostic criteria require more ancillary tests to differentiate specific subtypes of lymphoma for optimal therapy.

With a focus on the pathology aspects of diagnosing lymphoma, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the College of American Pathologists (CAP), and the American Society of Hematology (ASH) are collaborating to develop an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the workup of lymphoma. An interdisciplinary panel of experts representing these organizations is developing the guideline. The expert panel includes clinical oncologists, pathologists, and patient representatives.

The draft recommendations summary for the “ASCP/CAP/ASH Requirements for Laboratory Workup of Lymphoma Guideline” is now available for public comment from September 27, 2018, through October 24, 2018.

According to Steven H. Kroft, MD, ASCP Co-Chair, “Diagnosis and classification of lymphoma has become a highly complex, multi-modality process that requires rigorous attention to and quality assurance of pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical details. At the same time, clinical practice has evolved to favor the least invasive possible procedures to secure diagnoses. Thus, pathologists are being asked to do more and more with less and less. However, little guidance exists regarding the appropriate handling, testing, and reporting of lymphoma specimens. This guideline will assist pathologists and clinicians in making good decisions about the workup of lymphoma, so as to best serve our patients and enable optimal outcomes.”

All stakeholders, including pathologists, pathologists’ assistants, hematologists/oncologists, clinicians, laboratory personnel, quality managers in laboratories, hospitals or health systems, vendors, patient advocacy group representatives, and patients are encouraged to provide feedback on these draft recommendations.

“It is our hope that an open comment period draws input from diverse practice settings beyond the diversity represented in the expert panel,” says Cordelia E. Sever, MD, CAP Co-Chair. “This input usually provides information on common practice, as well as particular practice settings that were not obvious in the drafting stage of the guideline. Incorporating the feedback will strengthen the final guideline and make it universally applicable.”

The panel has drafted 14 evidence-based recommendations, primarily addressing the pre-analytic phase of testing, with an emphasis on specimen requirements. Specimens to investigate suspected lymphoma require special handling, the expert panel notes, and these handling decisions are best planned in advance in consultation with the pathologist or per agreed-upon institutional protocols.

The expert panel reviewed over 6,000 articles in peer-reviewed literature, with the aim of answering the overarching clinical question, “What are the specimen requirements for accurate diagnosis for patients in whom lymphoma is being considered?”

“A primary goal of this guideline would be to provide evidence-based recommendations for the pre-analytic phase of testing with a focus on specimen requirements,” shares Matthew Cheung, MD, ASH Co-Chair. “A secondary goal would be to provide evidence-based guidance on which ancillary testing and clinical parameters would contribute to diagnostic certainty in circumstances, in particular when additional sampling is not possible or associated with risk to patient safety. Optimal answers to key questions would guide users toward appropriate tissue sampling for common scenarios and inform which circumstances should prompt a tissue handling consultation prior to collection of the sample.”

Following the open comment period, the guideline authors will consider all feedback to finalize the recommendations. The final recommendations will be available in the guideline manuscript and will be available at no cost. To read and comment on the draft guidelines, click here.

About ASCP
Founded in 1922 in Chicago, ASCP is the world’s largest professional membership organization for pathologists and laboratory professionals. ASCP provides excellence in education, certification, and advocacy on behalf of patients, anatomic and clinical pathologists, and medical laboratory professionals. To learn more, visit Follow us on Twitter at and connect with us on Facebook at

About CAP
As the world's largest organization of board-certified pathologists and leading provider of laboratory accreditation and proficiency testing programs, the CAP serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. For more information, READ THE CAP ANNUAL REPORT at

About ASH
The American Society of Hematology ( is the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders. Its mission is to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting blood, bone marrow, and the immunologic, hemostatic, and vascular systems by promoting research, clinical care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. The official journal of ASH is Blood (, the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online. In 2016, ASH launched Blood Advances (, an online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.

Media Contacts:
Sue Montgomery, ASCP
(312) 541-4754

Kerry Lydon, CAP
(847) 832-7844

Amanda Szabo, ASH

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