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J Neurooncol. 2004 Nov;70(2):137-60.

Molecular pathogenesis of astrocytic tumours.

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Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.


Our current knowledge of the molecular pathogenesis of the diffuse adult astrocytic tumours is vast if compared to 20 years ago, yet we are far from understanding the details of this process at the molecular level and using such an understanding to logically and specifically treat patients' tumours. In other astrocytic tumours we have little or no knowledge of the molecular processes. This article will attempt to summarise the histological classification criteria and genetic data for all the astrocytic tumours. The current World Health Organisation classification lists six entities, some with subgroups. Common problems associated with the diagnosis of these tumours are outlined. While the molecular findings are not as yet used clinically, we are approaching a time when the histological investigation will have to be supplemented with molecular data to ensure the best choice of treatment for the patient and as an accurate indicator of prognosis.

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