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J Clin Pathol. 2003 Aug;56(8):561-8.

Best Practice No 172: pituitary gland pathology.

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Division of Pathology, School of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edingurgh EH4 2XU, UK.


This article reviews published evidence on the diagnosis and classification of pituitary gland tumours and the relevance of histological and genetic features to prognosis. Much of the literature is devoted to the histological, ultrastructural, and immunocytochemical classification of pituitary adenomas (extensively supported by multicentre studies), with little consensus on the identification of prognostic features in adenomas, particularly in relation to invasion. There is a lack of correspondence between clinical and pathological criteria to identify and classify invasion, and a need to reassess the nomenclature and diagnostic criteria for invasive adenomas and carcinomas. Recent cytogenetic, genetic, and molecular biological studies have identified no consistent abnormalities in relation to pituitary tumour progression, although many genes are likely to be involved. In light of these uncertainties, an approach to the diagnosis and classification of pituitary adenomas is suggested, based on robust criteria from earlier studies and incorporating provisional data that require reassessment in large prospective studies with an adequate clinicopathological database.

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