Time to update haematology terminology: experts


25 May 2016

Terminology used in haematology needs updating to more accurately reflect current knowledge of diseases, Melbourne haematologists say.

In a letter to the British Journal of Haematology Professor Surender Juneja and Dr Eric Wong from diagnostic haematology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital said the WHO 2008 classification had addressed many issues around the nomenclature of haematological malignancies.

However there were still many commonly accepted terms that misrepresented the pathogenesis, clinical or laboratory manifestations of the disease.

“In our view there is both the scope and need to simplify and update terminology used in haematology,” they wrote.

Doing so would facilitate learning for beginners as well as help communication with colleagues from other disciplines and patients, they said.

Authors suggested terms that need updating:

Marrow aplasia → marrow hypoplasia

Aplastic anaemia→ aplastic / hypoplastic (pan) cytopenia

Secondary polycythaemia→ secondary erythrocytosis

Polycythaemia vera→ Erythrocythaemia

Essential thrombocythaemia→ thrombocythaemia

Acute lymphocytic leukaemia→Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Refractory anaemia with excess blasts I and II→ Myelodysplasia with excess blasts I and II

Acknowledging that their ideas may not be popular among people who may not see a need for a change the authors say they hope their letter will promote discussion: “resulting in the standardization of haematology (or hematology) terminology.”

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