The diagnosis of a large B-cell lymphoma and classic Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL) is often straightforward. However, in select circumstances, these simple diagnoses can be quite complex. In part, diagnostic difficulty may be due to uncertainty in the evaluation of morphologic and immunophenotypic features along a biologic continuum, or alternatively arise from uncertainty in predicting the behavior and outcomes of patients. Here, we systematically discuss and review areas of diagnostic difficulty in the diagnosis of large B-cell lymphomas (LBCL), classic Hodgkin lymphomas (CHL) and peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCL). We provide careful data-driven analyses and evidence-based approaches to help guide pathologists and clinicians. We discuss: 1) marginal zone lymphomas with increased large cells versus diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), 2) chronic lymphocytic leukemia with expanded proliferation centers versus diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), 3) chronic lymphocytic leukemia with Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg-like cells versus CHL arising from chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 4) complex cases of follicular lymphoma versus DLBCL, 5) PTCL with large B-cell proliferations versus PTCL with LBCL, 6) PTCL with Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg-like cells versus CHL, and finally 7) blastoid/pleomorphic mantle cell lymphoma versus DLBCL. Our evidence and data driven approach may serve as a useful diagnostic guide.
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