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Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 686902, 7 pages
Research Article

Histopathological Diagnostic Discrepancies in Soft Tissue Tumours Referred to a Specialist Centre: Reassessment in the Era of Ancillary Molecular Diagnosis

Sarcoma Unit, Department of Histopathology, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, 203 Fulham Road, London SW3 6JJ, UK

Received 2 April 2014; Accepted 15 July 2014; Published 5 August 2014

Academic Editor: Chandrajit Premanand Raut

Copyright © 2014 Khin Thway et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Soft tissue tumour pathology is a highly specialised area of surgical pathology, but soft tissue neoplasms can occur at virtually all sites and are therefore encountered by a wide population of surgical pathologists. Potential sarcomas require referral to specialist centres for review by pathologists who see a large number of soft tissue lesions and where appropriate ancillary investigations can be performed. We have previously assessed the types of diagnostic discrepancies between referring and final diagnosis for soft tissue lesions referred to our tertiary centre. We now reaudit this 6 years later, assessing changes in discrepancy patterns, particularly in relation to the now widespread use of ancillary molecular diagnostic techniques which were not prevalent in our original study. Materials and Methods. We compared the sarcoma unit's histopathology reports with referring reports on 348 specimens from 286 patients with suspected or proven soft tissue tumours in a one-year period. Results. Diagnostic agreement was seen in 250 cases (71.8%), with 57 (16.4%) major and 41 (11.8%) minor discrepancies. There were 23 cases of benign/malignant discrepancies (23.5% of all discrepancies). 50 ancillary molecular tests were performed, 33 for aiding diagnosis and 17 mutational analyses for gastrointestinal stromal tumour to guide therapy. Findings from ancillary techniques contributed to 3 major and 4 minor discrepancies. While the results were broadly similar to those of the previous study, there was an increase in frequency of major discrepancies. Conclusion. Six years following our previous study and notably now in an era of widespread ancillary molecular diagnosis, the overall discrepancy rate between referral and tertiary centre diagnosis remains similar, but there is an increase in frequency of major discrepancies likely to alter patient management. A possible reason for the increase in major discrepancies is the increasing lack of exposure to soft tissue cases in nonspecialist centres in a time of subspecialisation. The findings support the national guidelines in which all suspected soft tissue tumour pathology specimens should be referred to a specialist sarcoma unit.