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Histopathology reporting for personalised medicine: focus on clinical utility


Histopathology guidelines generally focus on standardised collection of data items to facilitate completeness and reproducibility of histopathology reporting. A data item is categorised as either core (mandatory) or non-core (recommended but not mandatory), irrespective of the clinical scenario. However, a data item that is critical for patient management in one clinical setting may have little clinical significance in another setting. A diagnosis of limited extent Gleason score 3+3=6 prostate cancer is critical in a patient being investigated for raised serum prostate-specific antigen but would be clinically irrelevant in a repeat biopsy from a patient on an active surveillance protocol. We outline an alternative approach that is focused on the clinical utility of the data items and the requirements of personalised medicine. While all core data items are required to be reported, understanding how these parameters are used to guide patient management will enable pathologists to focus time and resources on the critical aspects of an individual case. Detailed immunohistochemical workup and obtaining a second opinion would not be necessary if resolution of the differential diagnosis is of limited clinical significance. We also highlight some challenges encountered when adopting this approach and suggest some solutions that could positively impact histopathology reporting and patient care.

  • diagnosis
  • neoplasms
  • pathology, surgical
  • process assessment, health care
  • medical oncology

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