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Why is it crucial to reintegrate pathology into cancer research?

Authors

  • Jaime Rodriguez-Canales,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laser Capture Microdissection Core and Pathogenetics Unit, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
    • Laser Capture Microdissection Core and Pathogenetics Unit, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Franziska C. Eberle,

    1. Hematopathology Section, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, USA
    2. Department of Dermatology, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Elaine S. Jaffe,

    1. Hematopathology Section, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Michael R. Emmert-Buck

    Corresponding author
    1. Laser Capture Microdissection Core and Pathogenetics Unit, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
    • Laser Capture Microdissection Core and Pathogenetics Unit, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
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Abstract

The integration of pathology with molecular biology is vital if we are to enhance the translational value of cancer research. Pathology represents a bridge between medicine and basic biology, it remains the gold standard for cancer diagnosis, and it plays an important role in discovery studies. In the past, pathology and cancer research were closely associated; however, the molecular biology revolution has shifted the focus of investigators toward the molecular alterations of tumors. The reductionist approach taken in molecular studies is producing great insight into the inner workings of neoplasia, but it can also minimize the importance of histopathology and of understanding the disease as a whole. In turn, pathologists can underestimate the role of molecular studies in developing new ancillary techniques for clinical diagnosis. A multidisciplinary approach that integrates pathology and molecular biology within a translational research system is needed. This process will require overcoming cultural barriers and can be achieved through education, a more effective incorporation of pathology into biological research, and conversely an integration of biological research into the pathology laboratory.

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