Classification of myeloid neoplasms: a comparative review


  • Patricia M. McManus

    1. From the Department of Pathobiology, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia, PA. Dr McManus is now at Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging and Cytopathology, Clackamas, OR ( This article has been peer-reviewed
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Abstract Classification of myeloid neoplasms in veterinary medicine was modeled in the early 1990s after French–American–British and National Cancer Institute systems used in human medicine. Recently our physician counterparts, in collaboration with oncologists, constructed a new World Health Organization (WHO) standard. WHO revisions lower the blast threshold from 30% to 20% for diagnosing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and expand and redefine AML categories. AML is now subdivided into 4 broad groups: 1) AML with recurrent genetic abnormalities, 2) AML with multilineage dysplasia, 3) AML with previous chemotherapy and/or radiation, and 4) AML, not otherwise categorized. AML alphanumeric designations (M1, M2, etc) have been discontinued as numbers of subtypes have increased. The lower blast percentage eliminates one category of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS): refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation. A new MDS category was created: refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia (RCMD), with lineage dysplasia assessed using newly defined percentage limits. At least 10% of cells from each of 2 lineages must display atypia for a diagnosis of RCMD. That threshold is 50% for diagnosing AML with multilineage dysplasia. Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia has been removed from the MDS category and included in a new category of diseases that have features of both MDS and chronic leukemia. WHO revisions are a signal to veterinary clinical pathologists to assess the validity of our system, which was built on premises now questioned.