Which histologic findings are characteristic of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)?

Updated: Aug 20, 2020
  • Author: Shipra Gandhi, MBBS; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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The diagnosis of diffuse large cell lymphoma is usually confirmed after positive findings are obtained from a lymph node biopsy specimen. Pathology findings should be reviewed by an expert hematopathologist, because lymphomas can be difficult to classify.

Diffuse large B-cell lymphomas are more or less composed of equal numbers of small and large cells. The small cells are usually slightly larger than normal lymphocytes, and they have a cleaved or indented nucleus and coarse chromatin.

The large cells can be cleaved or noncleaved. The cytoplasm of these cells is pale, and the cells have an irregular, central, indented nucleus with inconspicuous nucleoli. A subset of the large cells has rounded nuclei with 1 or more nucleoli; these are the noncleaved large cells and are somewhat larger than the cleaved cells. (See the images below.)

Biopsy of a cervical lymph node showing infiltrati Biopsy of a cervical lymph node showing infiltration with a population of large cells (B cells) consistent with diffuse large cell lymphoma.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Hematoxylin and eos Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Hematoxylin and eosin stain of a lymph node biopsy sample showing a mixture of large and small cells. The architecture of the node is lost, with a diffuse pattern of involvement.

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