1. Is there a reason to choose one type of sample (blood, bone marrow, or tissue) over another for testing?
Which sample to be tested is up to your health practitioner and must be representative of your cancer. If abnormal cells are present in the bloodstream, a blood sample is often used for immunophenotyping as it is easy to obtain and less invasive than other collection methods. However, lymphoma cells may or may not find their way to the bloodstream and would require other collection techniques.
2. Can immunophenotyping be done in my doctor's office?
No. The test requires specialized equipment and expertise in interpretation. It is not offered in every laboratory, but many larger hospitals perform the testing or your sample may be sent to a reference laboratory.
3. Can results of testing be used to determine the course of my cancer?
Diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma is based on the visual examination of a blood smear and/or bone marrow biopsy and aspiration for the presence of certain cell types. Depending upon the pattern of antigens present and their established association with specific cancers, a health practitioner may determine how likely a cancer will respond to treatment and how aggressive the treatment might be. The course of treatment for that cancer will be determined by the health practitioner and their team based on immunophenotyping and other tests that might be performed.
The antigens on specific monoclonal cancer cells will generally remain the same; however, treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation will eliminate the abnormal cells. If treatment is successful, normal white blood cells (WBCs) will replace abnormal cells. Because of this, immunophenotyping results will be different by reflecting the current population of WBCs that would be present in an individual in remission.
This article was last reviewed on December 29, 2014. | This article was last modified on October 1, 2015.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
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