Gross examination and reporting of soft tissue tumours: evaluation of compliance with the UK Royal College of Pathologists soft tissue sarcoma dataset

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Soft tissue tumours are a heterogeneous group of neoplasms that can arise at almost every anatomical site. As they often show similar clinical and radiological findings, histology is the definitive diagnostic method and it is crucial that the surgical pathology report contains accurate, useful information for management and prognostication. The soft tissue sarcoma minimum dataset produced by the Royal College of Pathologists in the UK outlines a structure for handling and reporting soft tissue tumours, including the core data required, and aiding pathologists in forming a consistent reporting approach.


We assessed the information in surgical pathology reports for soft tissue lesions at a tertiary soft tissue centre, in 1 year prior to the development of this dataset, and 1 year after its release, to audit the comparative adequacy of macroscopic and microscopic information provided, and to assess for differences in reporting since the advent of routine ancillary molecular diagnostic testing.

Results and conclusions

We found that while essential information was always included in reports, more specific details contributing to better quality reports such as more detailed macroscopic descriptions and a higher proportion of clinical summaries with radiological correlation were included in 2011 than 2006, despite increasing workload. Specimen handling, particularly of core biopsies, was also improved, reflecting the increasing need to conserve the maximum amount of patient material for molecular investigations.

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