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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 May;135(5):588-601. doi: 10.1043/2010-0594-RAIR.1.

Molecular diagnostics of soft tissue tumors.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 983135 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-3135, USA.



Soft tissue pathology encompasses a remarkably diverse assortment of benign and malignant soft tissue tumors. Rendering a definitive diagnosis is complicated not only by the large volume of existing histologic subtypes (>100) but also frequently by the presence of overlapping clinical, histologic, immunohistochemical, and/or radiographic features. During the past 3 decades, mesenchymal tumor-specific, cytogenetic and molecular genetic abnormalities have demonstrated an increasingly important, ancillary role in mesenchymal tumor diagnostics.


To review molecular diagnostic tools available to the pathologist to further classify specific soft tissue tumor types and recurrent aberrations frequently examined. Advantages and limitations of individual approaches will also be highlighted.


Previously published review articles, peer-reviewed research publications, and the extensive cytogenetic and molecular diagnostic experience of the authors to include case files of The University of Nebraska Medical Center.


Cytogenetic and molecular genetic assays are used routinely for diagnostic purposes in soft tissue pathology and represent a powerful adjunct to complement conventional microscopy and clinicoradiographic evaluation in the formulation of an accurate diagnosis. Care should be taken, however, to recognize the limitations of these approaches. Ideally, more than one technical approach should be available to a diagnostic laboratory to compensate for the shortcomings of each approach in the assessment of individual specimens.

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