Beyond the snapshot: optimizing prognostication and prediction by moving from fixed to functional multidimensional cancer pathology.


The role of pathology in patient management has evolved over time from the retrospective review of cells, tissue, and disease ('what happened') to a prospective outlook ('what will happen'). Examination of a static, two-dimensional hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained tissue slide has traditionally been the pathologist's primary task, but novel ancillary techniques enabled by technological breakthroughs have supported pathologists in their increasing ability to predict disease status and behaviour. Nevertheless, the informational limits of 2D, fixed tissue are now being reached and technological innovation is urgently needed to ensure that our understanding of disease entities continues to support improved individualized treatment options. Here we review pioneering work currently underway in the field of cancer pathology that has the potential to capture information beyond the current basic snapshot. A selection of exciting new technologies is discussed that promise to facilitate integration of the functional and multidimensional (space and time) information needed to optimize the prognostic and predictive value of cancer pathology. Learning how to analyse, interpret, and apply the wealth of data acquired by these new approaches will challenge the knowledge and skills of the pathology community. © 2022 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

More about this publication

The Journal of pathology
  • Volume 257
  • Issue nr. 4
  • Pages 403-412
  • Publication date 01-07-2022

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