INCTR Pathology Workshop

What Can We Learn from Africa? New insights into lymphoma classification, heterogeneity, molecular epidemiology & biology, Certosa di Pontignano, Siena, Italy, May 7th-8th 2010

This meeting was organized by members of INCTR’s Pathology Program and attended by African physicians and pathologists. It was supported by the Office of HIV/AIDS Malignancies of the NCI and the Istituto Toscano Tumori.

The program included lectures on specific lymphomas followed by selected case presentations. The results of INCTR’s Pathology Team review of diagnostic materials that took place during on-site visits to African centers participating in the on-going INCTR Burkitt Lymphoma study were presented. Of 400 diagnoses originally made by the treating institutions, only 50% could be confirmed using the WHO Lymphoma Classification criteria. This finding underlined the difficulties experienced by pathologists in Africa in making accurate diagnoses. Discussions were held to identify solutions to improving diagnostic capabilities at the local level so that future research studies on lymphomas in Africa can be conducted.

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Certosa di Pontignano, Siena, Italy

According to Professor Lorenzo Leoncini, the scientific organizer of the meeting and Coordinator of the Histopathology and Molecular Diagnosis Section at the University of Siena’s Department of Human Pathology and Oncology, this collaborative project with INCTR provided an enhanced understanding of the situation in Africa, as well as a basis upon which future clinical studies and research on lymphomas can be planned.

Professor Leoncini also stressed that cancer therapies have progressed quite significantly in western countries over the last thirty years. In developing countries, on the other hand, survival is half that of the west and the increasing number of tumours does not get sufficient attention, not only in terms of treatment, but also in terms of research and prevention. Further cancer research in developing countries will therefore be fundamental for global cancer control in the coming years.

Professor Leoncini’s working group also gave an account of the knowledge and skills it has gained after many years of work at Siena University, which is a national centre of reference for lymphoma diagnosis and therapy.

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