Cancer Pathology Services

Anatomic pathology services at UPMC CancerCenter are focused largely on the role of surgical pathology, hematopathology, and neuropathology. In addition to the routine processing of tumor resections, molecular diagnostic techniques have been developed to detect minimal residual disease and the pathways of oncogene activation, which describe the stages of tumor progression. Many such complex molecular biologic analyses are being carried out for hematologic neoplasms and solid tumors in an attempt to offer both diagnostic and therapeutic input into patient services.

The Division of Anatomic Pathology places a particular emphasis on oncogenesis in hematologic, pulmonary, soft tissue and cytologic pathology. It serves as the region's largest bone marrow/stem cell transplantation center and lymphoma/leukemia referral base. The Division supports the Breast Cancer Program, including cytologic interpretation of fine needle aspirates and collaborative studies of flow cytometric analysis and in situ hybridization of breast carcinomas.

In-Situ Hybridization Laboratory

The Division's In-Situ Hybridization Laboratory employs molecular diagnostic techniques to manage the analysis of solid tumor expression of oncogenes, extracellular matrix antigens, and viral pathogens.

Fluorescent in situ hybridization techniques are applied to the study of colorectal, pancreatic, neurologic and lung cancer tumors routinely. With this technique, a fluorescent probe can be used to examine a very specific portion of DNA to identify gene mutations and to apply antibodies to oncoproteins produced by overexpressed oncogenes.

Molecular Anatomic Pathology Section

The Molecular Anatomic Pathology Section provides molecular analysis of solid tumor specimens, both fresh and fixative treated. This section employs advanced techniques to detect and characterize these mutations, which are actively used both for diagnosis and treatment planning.

With this knowledge, tumors may be separated into different groups based on how they behave and whether they respond to particular chemotherapy regimens. Critical to this effort is tissue microdissection using tools such as laser capture microdissection to optimize sample selection for molecular analysis. The work performed in this regard is among the most advanced in the nation being used both for investigative studies and clinical testing.