In 2018 the College of American Pathologists Diagnostic Immunology and Flow Cytometry Committee designed and implemented a new plasma cell neoplasia flow cytometry proficiency testing program—PCNEO—to allow clinical flow cytometry laboratories to monitor and assess their performance compared with a peer group.
To report the results from the first 4 years of the PCNEO program.
Program participants were sent 2 sets of challenges per year, each including 1 wet challenge and 2 dry challenges, with associated clinical and laboratory findings. The wet challenges were composed of myeloma cell line specimens (with or without dilution in preserved whole blood) for flow cytometric analysis. The dry (paper) challenges were composed of clinical case summaries and images of flow cytometric test results from various flow cytometry laboratories of committee members.
A total of 116 to 145 laboratories from 17 countries enrolled in the proficiency testing program. For the wet challenges, almost all participants (97%–100%; cumulative, 98.2%) correctly identified the presence of neoplastic plasma cell populations based on flow cytometric analysis of undiluted myeloma cell lines. Slightly fewer participants (89.0%–97.4%; cumulative, 95.2%) correctly identified the presence of neoplastic plasma cell populations based on flow cytometric analysis of diluted myeloma cell lines (10% or 50% dilutions into peripheral blood) intended to better represent a typical clinical sample. There was generally agreement among 80% or more of participants for positive or negative staining for CD38, CD138, CD19, CD20, and surface and cytoplasmic κ and λ light chains. Similarly, 84% to 100% of participants were able to correctly identify the presence of neoplastic plasma cell populations in paper challenges, including the presence of small, neoplastic plasma cell populations (0.01%–5.0% clonal plasma cells), or the presence of nonneoplastic plasma cell populations (correctly identified by 91%–96% of participants).
Participant performance in the new proficiency testing program was excellent overall, with the vast majority of participants able to perform flow cytometric analysis and identify neoplastic plasma cell populations, and to identify small plasma cell clones or expanded populations of reactive plasma cells in dry challenge flow cytometry results. This program will allow laboratories to verify the accuracy of their testing program and test interpretations for the assessment of patients suspected of having a plasma cell neoplasm.
The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.
All authors are current or past members of the College of American Pathologists Diagnostic Immunology and Flow Cytometry Committee, except for Bashleben, who is an employee of the College of American Pathologists.