The definitive diagnosis and classification of individual cancers underpins the care of individual cancer patients, as well as research into cancer causation, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Traditionally, cancer classification has been based on consensus of histopathological opinion, with very limited consideration of molecular pathology. But new technologies are now transforming the field of pathology more rapidly than at any other time during the past 30 years, and it has become increasingly clear that the traditional approach to cancer classification is insufficient. Our understanding of cancer at a molecular level has now reached the point that this information must be included in diagnoses. Digital pathology and image analysis are also producing new insights, providing quantitative justification of many existing diagnostic criteria while challenging others. The rapid improvement in computer technology, including artificial intelligence, is already producing clinically applicable aids to diagnosis, and this trend is likely to accelerate.

There is an urgent need to integrate these facets of diagnosis into cancer classification internationally, and to update the WHO Classification of Tumours on a regular basis. IARC has been responsible for the WHO Classification of Tumours, also known as the Blue Books, since the 3rd edition (2000–2005), which covered all organ sites in 10 volumes. The characteristics of each cancer type, including diagnostic criteria, pathological features, and associated molecular alterations, are described and illustrated in a strictly disease-oriented manner to provide the international standards for diagnosis and cancer research.

The WHO Classification of Tumours Group at IARC is responsible for the publication of the 4th edition of the WHO Classification of Tumours series, and the launch of the forthcoming 5th edition is on the horizon.

WHO Classification of Tumours - News

WHO Classification of Tumours, 5th edition


WHO Classification of Tumours, 5th edition WHO Classification of Tumours, 5th edition
First Editorial Board Meeting: Digestive System Tumours
5–6 February 2018
IARC, Lyon, France
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IARC Publications: WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues


WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues is a Revised 4th Edition Volume of the WHO series on histological and genetic typing of human tumours. This authoritative, concise reference book provides an international standard for oncologists and pathologists and will serve as an indispensable guide for use in the design of studies monitoring response to therapy and clinical outcome.
This classification, prepared by 132 authors from 23 countries, contains about 1300 colour images and tables, and more than 4500 references.

WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues
WHO Classification of Tumours, revised 4th edition, Volume 2
Edited by Swerdlow SH, Campo E, Harris NL, Jaffe ES, Pileri SA, Stein H, Thiele J
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