Time for change: a new training programme for morpho-molecular pathologists?

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Abstract

The evolution of cellular pathology as a specialty has always been driven by technological developments and the clinical relevance of incorporating novel investigations into diagnostic practice. In recent years, the molecular characterisation of cancer has become of crucial relevance in patient treatment both for predictive testing and subclassification of certain tumours. Much of this has become possible due to the availability of next-generation sequencing technologies and the whole-genome sequencing of tumours is now being rolled out into clinical practice in England via the 100 000 Genome Project. The effective integration of cellular pathology reporting and genomic characterisation is crucial to ensure the morphological and genomic data are interpreted in the relevant context, though despite this, in many UK centres molecular testing is entirely detached from cellular pathology departments. The CM-Path initiative recognises there is a genomics knowledge and skills gap within cellular pathology that needs to be bridged through an upskilling of the current workforce and a redesign of pathology training. Bridging this gap will allow the development of an integrated ‘morphomolecular pathology’ specialty, which can maintain the relevance of cellular pathology at the centre of cancer patient management and allow the pathology community to continue to be a major influence in cancer discovery as well as playing a driving role in the delivery of precision medicine approaches. Here, several alternative models of pathology training, designed to address this challenge, are presented and appraised.

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