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Int J Breast Cancer. 2012;2012:691205. doi: 10.1155/2012/691205. Epub 2012 Dec 23.

3D Pathology Volumetric Technique: A Method for Calculating Breast Tumour Volume from Whole-Mount Serial Section Images.

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Physical Sciences Platform, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Room C7-27c, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M4N 3M5.


Tumour size, most commonly measured by maximum linear extent, remains a strong predictor of survival in breast cancer. Tumour volume, proportional to the number of tumour cells, may be a more accurate surrogate for size. We describe a novel "3D pathology volumetric technique" for lumpectomies and compare it with 2D measurements. Volume renderings and total tumour volume are computed from digitized whole-mount serial sections using custom software tools. Results are presented for two lumpectomy specimens selected for tumour features which may challenge accurate measurement of tumour burden with conventional, sampling-based pathology: (1) an infiltrative pattern admixed with normal breast elements; (2) a localized invasive mass separated from the in situ component by benign tissue. Spatial relationships between key features (tumour foci, close or involved margins) are clearly visualized in volume renderings. Invasive tumour burden can be underestimated using conventional pathology, compared to the volumetric technique (infiltrative pattern: 30% underestimation; localized mass: 3% underestimation for invasive tumour, 44% for in situ component). Tumour volume approximated from 2D measurements (i.e., maximum linear extent), assuming elliptical geometry, was seen to overestimate volume compared to the 3D volumetric calculation (by a factor of 7x for the infiltrative pattern; 1.5x for the localized invasive mass).

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