Soft-tissue sarcomas are rare, comprising <1% of all cancer diagnoses. Yet the diversity of histological subtypes is impressive with >100 benign and malignant soft-tissue tumor entities defined. Not infrequently, these neoplasms exhibit overlapping clinicopathologic features posing significant challenges in rendering a definitive diagnosis and optimal therapy. Advances in cytogenetic and molecular science have led to the discovery of genetic events in softtissue tumors that have not only enriched our understanding of the underlying biology of these neoplasms but have also proven to be powerful diagnostic adjuncts and/or indicators of molecular targeted therapy. In particular, many soft-tissue tumors are characterized by recurrent chromosomal rearrangements that produce specific gene fusions. For pathologists, identification of these fusions as well as other characteristic mutational alterations aids in precise subclassification. This review will address known recurrent or tumor-specific genetic events in soft-tissue tumors and discuss the molecular approaches commonly used in clinical practice to identify them. Emphasis is placed on the role of molecular pathology in the management of soft-tissue tumors. Familiarity with these genetic events provides important ancillary testing for pathologists to include in their diagnostic armamentarium.
- Molecular pathology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine