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Morphological control for molecular testing: a practical approach
  1. Irene Gullo1,2,
  2. Ana Marques1,2,3,
  3. Regina Pinto3,
  4. Luis Cirnes3,
  5. Fernando Schmitt2,3
  1. 1 Department of Pathology, CHUSJ – Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João EPE, Porto, Portugal
  2. 2 Department of Pathology, FMUP – Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
  3. 3 IPATIMUP Diagnostics, IPATIMUP – Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of Porto University, Porto, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dr. Fernando Schmitt, Pathology, Medical Faculty of Porto University, Porto, Portugal; fschmitt{at}


The determination of molecular aberrations within tumours is important for diagnostic, prognostic and predictive purposes. Pathologists play a critical role in the workflow of molecular diagnostics, by assuring accurate pathological diagnosis, requesting appropriate molecular testing, selecting the adequate tissue section for molecular analysis, enriching tumour cell content by manual macrodissection and estimating the tumour cellularity. Particularly, the assessment of the malignant cell fraction within a tumour section is a key determinant for an appropriate interpretation of the molecular findings. Several factors may impact the estimation of tumour cellularity and constitute a potential pitfall for the final interpretation of the molecular analysis. Evidence suggests that the reliability of morphological control could be improved by training. The scope of this commentary is to provide the training morpho-molecular pathologists with the practical tools necessary to master microscopic morphological control for solid tumours, as well as a set of images that could serve as a training set.

  • morphological and microscopic findings
  • pathology, molecular
  • quality control

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  • IG and AM are joint first authors.

  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty.

  • Contributors FS, IG and AM contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and data collection were performed by LC and RP. The first draft of the manuscript was written by IG and AM, supervised by FS, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. A final revision was made by FS and IG. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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