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J Pathol. 1996 Feb;178(2):116-21.

The molecular pathology of small round-cell tumours--relevance to diagnosis, prognosis, and classification.

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Section of Paediatrics, Institute of Cancer Research, Surrey, U.K.


Substantial improvements have been made in the treatment and survival of children with SRCT, resulting in an increased emphasis on precise histological diagnosis. Although diagnostic procedures such as electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry contribute in poorly differentiated cases, an accurate diagnosis can remain elusive in a proportion of SRCTs. The cytogenetic and molecular genetic abnormalities characteristic of the different SRCTs can now be consistently and rapidly identified from minimal quantities of tumour material, using the techniques of FISH and PCR. This, coupled with the identification of novel phenotypic characteristics, has had a major impact on SRCT diagnosis. The aim of a tumour classification is to identify disease entities which are biologically distinct and whose recognition is of clinical value. The recent advances described above demonstrate that the SRCTs are genotypically and phenotypically distinct tumour types and that the genetic abnormalities represent key alterations that influence both the morphology and the clinical behaviour of the tumour. This suggests that these advanced phenotypic and genotypic analyses should form an integral and complementary part of the laboratory assessment and clinical management of these forms of paediatric cancer.

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