Objective: We examined cytological findings for the diagnosis of primary thyroid mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma by fine needle aspiration. Study Design: During the study period of 4 years, a total of 101 cases including 51 MALT lymphomas, 20 Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT), and 30 diffuse large-cell B-cell lymphomas were cytologically examined. MALT lymphomas were divided into 44 common MALT and 7 MALT lymphomas with extreme plasmacytic differentiation (MALT-EPCD). Results: (1) Small- to medium-sized cells displaying irregularly shaped nuclei with prominent nucleoli (ISN-PN) were neoplastic cells. (2) In the case of a frequency of plasma cells (PC) below 15%, the accuracy rate for distinguishing common MALT from HT was 97% for ISN-PN cell frequencies above 20% in combination with the presence of lymphoepithelial lesion clusters (LELC) and mountain range-like clusters (MRLC). The frequency of large-sized cells was below 15% in common MALT. (3) In the case of a frequency of PC above 15%, cases with a sum of PC and ISN-PN cells above 30% were MALT-EPCD. (4) MRLC were cell clusters derived from regions of follicular colonization, and LELC were cell clusters from lymphoepithelial lesions of MALT lymphomas. Conclusion: Useful cytological criteria for the diagnosis of thyroid primary MALT lymphoma, such as neoplastic cells and cell clusters, were defined.

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