Participation in the College of American Pathologists Laboratory Accreditation Program Decreases Variability in B-Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Plasma Cell Myeloma Flow Cytometric Minimal Residual Disease Testing: A Follow-up Survey


Context.—: Minimal residual disease (MRD) testing by flow cytometry is ubiquitous in hematolymphoid neoplasm monitoring, especially B-lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), for which it provides predictive information and guides management. Major heterogeneity was identified in 2014. Subsequently, new Flow Cytometry Checklist items required documentation of the sensitivity determination method and required lower level of detection (LLOD) inclusion in final reports. This study assesses Laboratory Accreditation Program (LAP) participation and new checklist items’ impact on flow cytometry MRD testing.

Objectives.—: To survey flow cytometry laboratories about MRD testing for B-ALL and plasma cell myeloma. In particular, enumerate the laboratories performing MRD testing, the proportion performing assays with very low LLODs, and implementation of new checklist items.

Design.—: Supplemental questions were distributed in the 2017-A mailing to 548 flow cytometry laboratories subscribed to the College of American Pathologists FL3 Proficiency Testing Survey (Flow Cytometry-Immunophenotypic Characterization of Leukemia/Lymphoma).

Results.—: The percentage of laboratories performing MRD studies has significantly decreased since 2014. Wide ranges of LLOD and collection event numbers were reported for B-ALL and plasma cell myeloma. Most laboratories determine LLOD by using dilutional studies and include it in final reports; a higher proportion of LAP participants used these practices than nonparticipants.

Conclusions.—: Several MRD testing aspects vary among laboratories receiving FL3 Proficiency Testing materials. After the survey in 2014, new checklist items were implemented. As compared to 2014, fewer laboratories are performing MRD studies. While LLOD remains heterogeneous, a high proportion of LAP subscribers follow the new checklist requirements and, overall, target LLOD recommendations from disease-specific working groups are met.