Health technology assessment-based approach to flow cytometric immunophenotyping of acute leukemias: a literature classification

Tumori. 2020 Feb 14:300891620904412. doi: 10.1177/0300891620904412. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Acute leukemia (AL) is a broad, heterogeneous group of malignant diseases. The diagnostic workup of AL is based on several clinical and laboratory findings, including flow cytometric immunophenotyping. However, the role of this assay in the diagnosis of AL has not been systematically investigated. The aim of this study was to determine the accuracy and utility of flow cytometric immunophenotyping in the identification, characterization, and staging of AL.

Methods: We performed a systematic selection and classification of the literature since 1980, focused on flow cytometric immunophenotyping of AL. We applied a 6-variables model to cover both the technical capabilities and the clinical value of flow cytometric immunophenotyping in the diagnosis of AL.

Results: Using 3 key words (acute leukemia, immunophenotyping, flow cytometry), we screened the literature from January 1985 to April 2015 in PubMed and Embase databases and found 1010 articles. A total of 363 were selected and submitted to the expert panel, which selected a final data set of 248 articles to be analyzed. Of these, 160 were focused on clinical and biological issues, 55 were technical articles, and 31 were reviews. These 248 articles were then analyzed according to the 6-variables model and definitively classified.

Conclusions: We assessed the literature on flow cytometric immunophenotyping of AL over 3 decades as the first step toward an evidence-based analysis of the impact of this technology on the clinical management of patients with AL.

Keywords: Acute leukemia; diagnosis; flow cytometry; health technology; immunophenotyping.