While rare compared to extra-cranial neoplasms, glial and glioneuronal tumors are responsible of high morbidity and mortality. In 2016, the World Health Organization introduced histo-molecular (“integrated”) diagnostics for central nervous system tumors based on morphology, immunohistochemistry and the presence of key genetic alterations. This combined phenotypic-genotypic classification allows for a more objective diagnostic of brain tumors. The implementation of such a classification in daily practice requires immunohistochemical surrogates to detect common genetic alterations and sometimes expensive and not widely available molecular biology techniques. The first step in brain tumor diagnostics is to inquire about the clinical picture and the imaging findings. When dealing with a glial tumor, the pathologist needs to assess its nature, infiltrative or circumscribed. If the tumor is infiltrative, IDH1/2 genes (prognostic marker) and chromosomes 1p/19q (diagnosis of oligodendroglioma) need to be assessed. If the tumor appears circumscribed, the pathologist should look for a neuronal component associated with the glial component (glioneuronal tumor). A limited immunohistochemistry panel will help distinguish between diffuse glioma (IDH1-R132H, ATRX, p53) and circumscribed glial/glioneuronal tumor (CD34, neuronal markers, BRAF-V600E), and some antibodies may reliably detect genetic alterations (IDH1-R132H, BRAF-V600E and H3-K27M mutations). Chromosomal imbalances (1p/19q codeletion in oligodendroglioma; chromosome 7 gain/chromosome 10 loss and EGFR amplification in glioblastoma) and gene rearrangements (BRAF fusion, FGFR1 fusion) will be identified by molecular biology techniques. The up-coming edition of the WHO classification of the central nervous system tumors will rely more heavily on molecular alterations to accurately diagnose and treat brain tumors.
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