Review and Perspectives

Virchows Archiv

, Volume 460, Issue 1, pp 3-8

First online:

Personalized cancer medicine and the future of pathology

  • H. MochAffiliated withInstitute of Surgical Pathology, University Hospital Zurich Email author 
  • , P. R. BlankAffiliated withInstitute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich
  • , M. DietelAffiliated withInstitute of Pathology, University Hospital Charité
  • , G. ElmbergerAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Karolinska University Hospital
  • , K. M. KerrAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary & Aberdeen University Medical School
  • , J. PalaciosAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío/Instituto de Investigacions Biomédicas (IBIS) Sevilla
  • , F. Penault-LlorcaAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Centre Jean Perrin et Université d’Auvergne
  • , G. RossiAffiliated withSection of Pathologic Anatomy, Azienda Policlinico di Modena
  • , T. D. SzucsAffiliated withEuropean Center of Pharmaceutical Medicine, University of Basel

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In February 2011, a group of pathologists from different departments in Europe met in Zurich, Switzerland, to discuss opportunities and challenges for pathology in the era of personalized medicine. The major topics of the meeting were assessment of the role of pathology in personalized medicine, its future profile among other biomedical disciplines with an interest in personalized medicine as well as the evolution of companion diagnostics. The relevance of novel technologies for genome analysis in clinical practice was discussed. The participants recognize that there should be more initiatives taken by the pathology community in companion diagnostics and in the emerging field of next-generation sequencing and whole genome analysis. The common view of the participants was that the pathology community has to be mobilized for stronger engagement in the future of personalized medicine. Pathologists should be aware of the challenges and the analytical opportunities of the new technologies. Challenges of clinical trial design as well as insurance and reimbursement questions were addressed. The pathology community has the responsibility to lead medical colleagues into embracing this new area of genomic medicine. Without this effort, the discipline of pathology risks losing its key position in molecular tissue diagnostics.


Translational research Next-generation sequencing Whole genome analysis Molecular pathology