A multi-site cutting device implements efficiently the divide-and-conquer strategy in tumor sampling

Lopez JI and Cortes JM. A multi-site cutting device implements efficiently the divide-and-conquer strategy in tumor sampling. F1000Research 5:1587, 2016 [pdf]

We recently showed that in order to detect intra-tumor heterogeneity a Divide-and-Conquer (DAC) strategy of tumor sampling outperforms current routine protocols. This paper is a continuation of this work, but here we focus on DAC implementation in the Pathology Laboratory. In particular, we describe a new simple method that makes use of a cutting grid device and is applied to clear cell renal cell carcinomas for DAC implementation. This method assures a thorough sampling of large surgical specimens, facilitates the demonstration of intratumor heterogeneity, and saves time to pathologists in the daily practice. The method involves the following steps: 1. Thin slicing of the tumor (by hand or machine), 2. Application of a cutting grid to the slices (e.g., a French fry cutter), resulting in multiple tissue cubes with fixed position within the slice, 3. Selection of tissue cubes for analysis, and finally, 4. Inclusion of selected cubes into a cassette for histological processing (with about eight tissue fragments within each cassette). Thus, using our approach in a 10 cm in-diameter-tumor we generate 80 tumor tissue fragments placed in 10 cassettes and, notably, in a tenth of time. Eighty samples obtained across all the regions of the tumor will assure a much higher performance in detecting intratumor heterogeneity, as proved recently with synthetic data.

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