Diagnostic gold standard for soft tissue tumours: Morphology or molecular genetics?

J. D. Pfeifer, D. A. Hill, M. J. O'Sullivan, L. P. Dehner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The recognition of recurrent genetic alterations in specific tumour types has provided the basis for the reclassification of certain soft tissue neoplasms, and molecular analysis of patient material has the potential to provide both diagnostic and prognostic information. In this review, we evaluate the role of molecular genetic testing as the prospective "gold standard" for sarcoma diagnosis. Molecular genetic testing, as with every new method, promises to improve accuracy and to be more sensitive and less subjective, claims that have been made previously by histochemistry, electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry. Technical limitations in molecular assays, as well as more general specificity issues, decrease the clinical usefulness of molecular pathological testing significantly and suggest that, at present, molecular evaluation is best considered an ancillary technique that neither supersedes other ancillary techniques nor eclipses traditional pathological examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-500
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Ancillary techniques
  • Cytogenetics
  • Diagnosis
  • Molecular genetics
  • Morphology
  • Sarcoma


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