Bone marrow examination in newly diagnosed Hodgkin’s disease: Current practice in the United Kingdom
Howard MR., Taylor PRA., Lucraft HH., Taylor MJ., Proctor SJ.
In the UK Hodgkin’s disease is usually treated by either clinical oncologists or haematologists. A national study of the performance of bone marrow examination in newly diagnosed Hodgkin’s disease was undertaken to establish current practice. A total of 620 questionnaires were despatched, and replies were received from 60% of consultants (45% of clinical oncologists and 70% of haematologists). Bone marrow examination was performed in all new cases significantly more often by haematologists than by clinical oncologists (74% vs 40%, P < 0.001). Among haematologists, there was no correlation between the number of new patients seen annually and practice, however clinical oncologists were even less likely to perform routine bone marrow biopsies if they saw more than ten patients per year (P < 0.02). Where bone marrow examination was performed selectively, the most common criteria used were peripheral blood cytopenia and advanced-stage disease. These criteria were applied in the same way by both clinical oncologists and haematologists. Bone marrow biopsy, an invasive and often painful procedure, is currently performed more frequently in Hodgkin’s disease than can be recommended on the basis of recent studies in the literature and associated guidelines. There is a significant difference in practice between clinical oncologists and haematologists, and this raises the wider issue of the influence of hospital specialisation on patient management. © 1995 Stockton Press. All rights reserved.