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From time to time, while signing out our surgical pathology cases, my colleagues and I have noted how certain pathological entities have been described either fairly recently, or at least since we entered the medical field. The best example of such a new disease is, of course, AIDS. In histopathology, lesions such as aggressive angiomyxoma, solid aneuysmal bone cyst, anaplastic large cell lymphoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumour are four lesions that we now see, but which would have been signed out quite differently in a different era.
This, and my interest in history of medicine and pathology got me thinking: which are the 20 most important landmark papers/concepts in surgical pathology over the past 50 years, 1957–2007? I refer to papers which have changed the practice of surgical pathology in one respect or the other. I asked, by e-mail, 83 pathologists around the world what their choice of such papers would be. Of course, the list was likely to be subjective, given that there are obviously much more than 20 important papers. Further, many of those receiving the mail had specialty interests and quite a few have described some of those entities. There was only one condition: the papers must be for the time period 1957 to 2007. Respondents could choose papers which have radically changed the practice of pathology in any respect, or simply their favourite paper (for whatever reason—it may have been elegantly written, it may have had a major impact on their field or changed a concept entirely, it may have been related to the first paper that they had published, etc). Respondents were asked to try and include papers from beyond their current area of interest or specialisation and to state why they had included them in the list, if it were …