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This rare disease is autosomal dominantly inherited and contains a spectrum of clinical signs and symptoms. There are multiple clear cell neoplasms in various organs including retinal and central nervous system hemangioblastomas, renal cell carcinomas, pheochromocytomas, pancreatic endocrine tumors, and cysts.


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Von Hippel–Lindau disease: affecting 43 members of a single kindred.

Lamiell JM, Salazar FG, Hsia YE.

Medicine 1989;68:1–29.

At least 25 distinct lesions have been described in this disorder

In a review of 511 previously published cases in the literature, the incidence of the most common lesions are as follows:
Retinal angiomatosis (57%)
Cerebellar (55%), medullary (6%), and spinal (14%) hemangioblastomas; Pheochromocytoma (19%)
Renal cysts (14%)
R- enal cell carcinoma (24%)
Epididymal cystadenoma (17%)
Pancreatic cysts (14%)
Pancreatic malignancy (4%)

Molecular Characterization and Ophthalmic Investigation of a Large Family With Type 2A von Hippel-Lindau Disease.

Allen RC, Webster AR, Sui R, Brown J, Taylor CM, Stone EM.

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Dr, Iowa City, IA 52242.

Arch Ophthalmol 2001 Nov;119(11):1659-1665 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is a dominantly inherited cancer syndrome. Since the identification of the VHL gene, at least 3 clinical-genetic subtypes of the disease have been recognized.

OBJECTIVES: To identify the specific abnormality in the VHL gene and to correlate it with the prevalence and severity of ocular involvement in a large family with VHL disease.

METHODS: A longitudinal clinical study and DNA analysis of 24 family members.

RESULTS: All 14 affected family members exhibited a thymine-to-cysteine change at nucleotide 505 (T505C) in exon 1 of the VHL gene, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of VHL disease subtype 2A. Two asymptomatic gene carriers were also identified. Seventy-five percent (12/16) of the gene carriers had 1 or more ocular angiomas. The mean number of ocular angiomas per gene carrier was 3.3. Six eyes had optic disc angioma. Five gene carriers (31%) had lost vision because of angiomatosis. Cerebellar hemangioblastomas were present in 4 patients (25%) and pheochromocytomas in 11 (69%). No patient was found to have a renal cell carcinoma.

CONCLUSIONS: The family shows a low susceptibility to renal carcinoma consistent with the clinical diagnosis of VHL disease type 2A. The prevalence and severity of ocular angiomatosis in this subtype do not significantly differ from those of the other more common subtypes of VHL. Recognition of the VHL disease 2A phenotype suggests the presence of a specific mutation (T505C) in the VHL gene. Confirmation of this genotype increases the clinician's ability to provide favorable prognostic information to affected family members.



Germline mutations in the von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) gene in Japanese VHL.

Clinical Research Group for VHL in Japan.

Hum Mol Genet 1995 Dec;4(12):2233-7 Abstract quote

The von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) gene is a putative tumor suppressor gene responsible for VHL, an autosomal dominantly inherited multitumor syndrome. It is also implicated in the development of sporadic tumors including clear cell renal carcinoma and central nervous system hemangioblastoma.

To define the molecular basis of VHL patients in Japanese populations, we tested for germline mutations of the VHL gene in 45 unrelated Japanese VHL patients by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis and Southern blot analysis. We detected 23 (51%) intragenic mutations and three (6.7%) deletions by SSCP analysis and Southern blot respectively. The intragenic mutations consisted of 14 missense mutations, seven microdeletions or insertions and two splice-site mutations. Interestingly, nine of 10 mutations in exon 1 are localized in a short region of 37 nucleotides. Five unique sites of mutation were included, which were not seen in previous studies. Unlike Western VHL patients, nonsense mutations were not found in Japanese VHL patients. If the presence of pheochromocytomas is regarded as phenotypic marker for VHl classification, the mutations found in 22 VHL patients without pheochromocytoma consisted of 11 missense mutations, six microdeletions or insertions, two splice-site alterations and three deletions. The mutations found in four VHL patients with pheochromocytomas consisted of one missense mutation at nucleotide 683 (codon 228), two missense mutations at nucleotide 712 (codon 238) and a novel 20 bp insertion at nucleotide 776 (codon 259). Although the mutations at codon 238 are the mutational hot spot found in Western VHL patients with pheochromocytomas, a 20 bp insertion of original VHL cDNA sequence, from nucleotide 777 to 796, is a unique mutation.

Our results suggest that mutations in Japanese VHL patients contain some unique features compared with those in Western patients. VHL gene has a critical role for the etiology in VHL in Japanese populations as well as Western VHL.

Germline mutations in the von Hippel-Lindau disease tumor suppressor gene: correlations with phenotype.

Chen F, Kishida T, Yao M, Hustad T, Glavac D, Dean M, Gnarra JR, Orcutt ML, Duh FM, Glenn G, et al.

Program Resources, Inc./DynCorp, National Cancer Institute-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Maryland 21702-1201, USA.

Hum Mutat 1995;5(1):66-75 Abstract quote

von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) is an inherited neoplastic disease characterized by a predisposition to develop retinal angiomas, central nervous system hemangioblastomas, renal cell carcinomas, pancreatic cysts, and pheochromocytomas. The VHL gene was recently isolated by positional cloning. The cDNA encodes 852 nucleotides in 3 exons. The VHL gene is unrelated to any known gene families.

We identified germline mutations in 85/114 (75%) of VHL families. Clinical heterogeneity is a well-known feature of VHL. VHL families were classified into 2 types based on the presence or absence of pheochromocytoma. The types of mutations responsible for VHL without pheochromocytoma (VHL type 1) differed from those responsible for VHL with pheochromocytoma (VHL type 2). Fifty-six % of the mutations responsible for VHL type 1 were microdeletions/insertions, nonsense mutations, or deletions; 96% of the mutations responsible for VHL type 2 were missense mutations. Specific mutations in codon 238 accounted for 43% of the mutations responsible for VHL type 2. The mutations identified in these families will be useful in presymptomatic diagnosis.

The identification of mutations associated with phenotypes contributes to the understanding of fundamental genetic mechanisms of VHL disease.

Mutation of von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor gene in a sporadic endolymphatic sac tumor

Shuji Hamazaki, MD
Minoru Yoshida, MD
Masahiro Yao, MD
Yoji Nagashima, MD
Kohji Taguchi, MD
Hiroyuki Nakashima, MD
Shigeru Okada, MD

Hum Pathol 2001;32:1272-1276. Abstract quote

Endolymphatic sac tumor (ELST) is a low-grade adenocarcinoma of the temporal bone that is presumed to originate from the endolymphatic system. Although ELSTs are extremely rare in the general population, a significant number of studies have documented the occurrence of ELST among patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease. Because of the rarity of the tumor, however, few cases of ELST have been analyzed for mutations of the VHL tumor suppressor gene.

In this study, we reported a Japanese male patient with sporadic ELST, along with a molecular genetic analysis of the VHL gene. The light microscopic and immunohistochemical features and clinical presentations were typical of ELST. Sequencing studies of the tumor DNA disclosed a G to T substitution of nucleotide 564, which resulted in an amino acid substitution (Trp to Cys).

This is the first report of the VHL gene mutation in a sporadic Japanese case of ELST.


Molecular analysis as a tool in the differential diagnosis of VHL disease-related tumors.

Gijtenbeek J, Jacobs B, Boots-Sprenger S, Bonne A, Lenders J, Kusters B, Wesseling P, Jeuken J.

Department of Neurology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Diagn Mol Pathol. 2005 Jun;14(2):115-20. Abstract quote  

Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is an autosomal dominant tumor syndrome, in which hemangioblastomas (HBs), clear cell renal cell carcinomas (RCCs), and pheochromocytomas are the most frequently encountered tumors. The differential diagnosis of dedifferentiated tumors in general can be difficult, as standard histologic and immunohistochemical investigations do not always allow a definitive diagnosis.

We used molecular genetic analysis to resolve the differential diagnosis of sarcomatoid RCC versus pheochromocytoma of a (peri)renal tumor in a VHL patient. Germline mutation analysis identified the C407T mutation, which has been related to a VHL phenotype in which pheochromocytomas are rare. Chromosomal imbalances detected in the tumor by CGH showed a pattern typical for RCCs and not for pheochromocytomas. CGH analysis of the multiple tumors of this VHL patient revealed a comparable karyotype in the metastatic tumors and the (peri)renal tumor. Concordantly, although the germline mutation was detected in all analyzed tumors, LOH 3p was only detected in the (peri)renal mass and most metastases.

Overall, based on all genetic data, this tumor corroborated a diagnosis of metastatic sarcomatoid RCC. In line with these observations is the immunopositivity for the RCC-specific RC38 detected in the (peri)renal mass and the metastases that was not detected in pheochromocytomas. The RCC specific marker G250 was uninformative as it stains positive in all types of VHL tumors.

This case report illustrates the promising role of genetic analysis in the differential diagnosis of histologically dedifferentiated tumors.

Long polymerase chain reaction in detection of germline deletions in the von Hippel-Lindau tumour suppressor gene.

Cybulski C, Krzystolik K, Maher ER, Richard S, Kurzawski G, Gronwald J, Lubinski J.

Department of Genetics and Pathology, Pomeranian Medical Academy, Poland.

Hum Genet 1999 Oct;105(4):333-6 Abstract quote

Experimental conditions for detection of germline deletions of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene by means of long polymerase chain reaction have been established.

Primers were designed to analyse the VHL gene in three overlapping fragments: 12.5 kb in length containing promoter and exons 1 and 2; 8.7kb in length containing exons 2 and 3; and 16kb in length containing exons 2 and 3 and the 3' untranslated region.

Using the described procedure, it was possible to detect large deletions in four of five cases with such mutations previously detected by Southern blotting and in 5 of 11 unrelated Polish VHL patients in whom constitutional VHL gene mutations were not found by sequencing.



Suprasellar hemangioblastoma in a patient with von Hippel-Lindau disease confirmed by germline mutation study. Case report and review of the literature.

Goto T, Nishi T, Kunitoku N, Yamamoto K, Kitamura I, Takeshima H, Kochi M, Nakazato Y, Kuratsu J, Ushio Y.

Department of Neurosurgery, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Kumamoto, Japan

Surg Neurol 2001 Jul;56(1):22-6 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND Hemangioblastoma (HBL) in the suprasellar region is extremely rare.

CASE DESCRIPTION A suprasellar mass was found in a 33-year-old woman with retinal HBL and bilateral adrenal pheochromocytomas. The diagnosis of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease was confirmed preoperatively not only by these clinical manifestations but also by germline mutation study. The existence of VHL disease indicated a diagnosis of HBL for the suprasellar mass. The results of our mutation study indicated that this patient had type II VHL disease, suggesting that careful follow-up is essential for the early detection of renal cell carcinoma, which is often associated with type II VHL disease. Here, we summarize the previously reported features of sellar and suprasellar HBLs.

CONCLUSIONS HBLs in this region may be one manifestation of VHL disease. Genetic testing of the VHL gene of our patient could provide useful information to determine appropriate medical care and management.


Clear Cell Carcinoid Tumor of the Gallbladder Another Distinctive Manifestation of Von Hippel-Lindau Disease

Prasanna A. Sinkre, M.D.; Linda Murakata, M.D.; Lionel Rabin, M.D.; Mai P. Hoang, M.D.; Jorge Albores-Saavedra, M.D.

From the Division of Anatomic Pathology (P.A.S., M.P.H., J.A.-S.), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas; and the Department of Hepatic and GI Pathology (L.M., L.R.), Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, U.S.A.

Am J Surg Pathol 2001;25:1334-1339 Abstract quote

We describe a morphologically distinctive carcinoid tumor of the gallbladder that occurred in a 38-year-old man with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease.

The carcinoid tumor was composed predominantly of lipid-containing clear cells arranged in nests and tubules with pagetoid spread into the biliary epithelium and was interpreted as metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The neoplastic cells showed diffuse immunoreactivity for chromogranin, synaptophysin, cytokeratins (cytokeratin 7 and AE1/AE3) and, unexpectedly, for inhibin, but were negative for monoclonal carcinoembryonic antigen, serotonin and a variety of peptide hormones.

This clear cell carcinoid tumor of the gallbladder was histologically similar to the recently described clear cell endocrine pancreatic tumor associated with VHL. Four cases of the latter tumor, which were also inhibin positive showed, in addition, focal and variable reactivity for the pancreatic hormones. Two classical carcinoid tumors of the gallbladder, two renal cell carcinomas associated with VHL and 11 of 13 sporadic endocrine pancreatic tumors (not associated with VHL) did not show immunoreactivity for inhibin. Inhibin appears to be an immunohistochemical marker for gallbladder clear cell carcinoid and clear cell endocrine pancreatic tumors associated with VHL and is a useful tool to distinguish these tumors from metastatic renal cell carcinoma. However, the basis for the inhibin positivity in these endocrine tumors is unknown.


Prevalence, morphology and biology of renal cell carcinoma in von Hippel-Lindau disease compared to sporadic renal cell carcinoma.

Neumann HP, Bender BU, Berger DP, Laubenberger J, Schultze-Seemann W, Wetterauer U, Ferstl FJ, Herbst EW, Schwarzkopf G, Hes FJ, Lips CJ, Lamiell JM, Masek O, Riegler P, Mueller B, Glavac D, Brauch H.

Department of Medicine, Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat, Freiburg, Germany

J Urol 1998 Oct;160(4):1248-54 Abstract quote

PURPOSE: Renal cell carcinoma occurs as a sporadic tumor but may be part of the autosomal dominant von Hippel-Lindau disease, characterized by retinal and central nervous system hemangioblastoma, pheochromocytoma, pancreatic cysts and renal cell carcinoma. We determine the prevalence of von Hippel-Lindau disease in a series of unselected renal cell carcinoma cases by molecular genetic analysis, and compare sporadic to von Hippel-Lindau renal cell carcinoma with respect to morphology and biology.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We established registers comprising 63 subjects with von Hippel-Lindau renal cell carcinoma, belonging to 30 distinct families (register A), and 460 unselected patients operated on for renal cell carcinoma in an 11-year period (register B). Molecular genetic analysis of the von Hippel-Lindau gene was performed for living patients of register A, representing 80% of von Hippel-Lindau families, and register B, 62% living patients, to identify von Hippel-Lindau germline mutations. In addition, register B was evaluated by a questionnaire (95% response) for familial occurrence of von Hippel-Lindau disease.

RESULTS: The prevalence of von Hippel-Lindau renal cell carcinoma was 1.6% in 189 consenting unselected renal cell carcinoma patients. Risk factors for occult germline von Hippel-Lindau gene mutations in register B included familial renal cell carcinoma in 3 of 3 patients (100%), multifocal or bilateral renal cell carcinoma in 1 of 10 (10%) and age younger than 50 years at diagnosis in 1 of 33 (3%). Compared to sporadic von Hippel-Lindau renal cell carcinoma was characterized by an occurrence 25 years earlier, association with renal cysts, multifocal and bilateral tumors, cystic organization and low grade histology, and a better 10-year survival (p < 0.001 each). In von Hippel-Lindau disease metastases occurred only in tumors larger than 7 cm.

CONCLUSIONS: von Hippel-Lindau differs from sporadic renal cell carcinoma in morphology and biology. Our data provide arguments for planning surgery for von Hippel-Lindau renal cell carcinoma and should stimulate future investigations.


Endolymphatic Sac Tumor Associated with a Von Hippel-Lindau Disease Patient: An Immunohistochemical Study

Hidehisa Horiguchi, M.D., Ph.D., Toshiaki Sano, M.D., Ph.D., Hiroyuki Toi, M.D., Teruyoshi Kageji, M.D., Ph.D., Mitsuyoshi Hirokawa, M.D., Ph.D. and Shinji Nagahiro, M.D., Ph.D.

Departments of Pathology and NeurosurgeryUniversity of Tokushima School of Medicine, Kuramoto, Tokushima, Japan

Mod Pathol 2001;14:727-732 Abstract quote

The authors report a case of endolymphatic sac tumor (ELST) associated with Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL).

A 20-year-old female VHL patient received a resection of a cerebellar hemangioblastoma 3 years ago and she had a co-existing of left petrous tumor. The petrous tumor showed a remarkable progression in 3 years and was resected subtotally. Histologically, the resected petrous tumor showed a papillary structure containing cuboidal or columnar cells with fibrous stroma and numerous microvessels and destructed temporal bone, all of which are consistent with ELST.

We studied the expression of various kinds of cytokeratins (CKs) immunohistochemically and found distinct expression of CKs (CAM 5.2, 34ßE-12, CK7, CK8 and CK19), but not for CK10/13 or CK20. Vascular endothelial growth factor and neuron specific enolase showed strong immunoreactivity in the tumor cells. CD34 also had weak expression. Ki-67 antigen (MIB-1) immunoreactivity was found in focal areas, and the labeling index in the highest-density area was 48.9%.

These findings suggest that vascular endothelial growth factor overexpression is an important factor for angiogenesis in ELST, much like other VHL-associated tumors, and that ELST may have a more highly aggressive component than the low-grade malignancy noted in previous reports.


Pancreatic cystic manifestations in von Hippel-Lindau disease.

Girelli R, Bassi C, Falconi M, De Santis L, Bonora A, Caldiron E, Sartori N, Salvia R, Briani G, Pederzoli P.

Surgical Department, Borgo Roma University Hospital, University of Verona, Italy

Int J Pancreatol 1997 Oct;22(2):101-9 Abstract quote

CONCLUSION: In view of the frequent absence of symptoms related to pancreatic lesions, screening tests for VHL should always include assessment of the pancreas and, considering the frequency of polycystic manifestations, VHL should always be borne in mind in the differential diagnosis of multiple pancreatic cysts, especially when occurring in young patients and in the absence of a positive history of pancreatic disease.

BACKGROUND: Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) is a hereditary disease transmitted with an autosomal dominant character and characterized by hemangioblastomas of the central nervous system and retina, renal tumors and cysts, and pheochromocytoma. Pancreatic manifestations of VHL are reported in the literature with incidences ranging from 16 to 29% of cases and consist mainly in cystadenomas of the serous type and in multiple cystic lesions, often with complete replacement of the gland.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We report five cases of VHL with a polycystic pancreas as the main or only manifestation, all devoid of symptoms related to involvement of the pancreas, who were referred to our Pancreatic Surgery center with diagnoses of multiple pancreatic pseudocysts of undefined origin.

Clear Cell Endocrine Pancreatic Tumor Mimicking Renal Cell Carcinoma A Distinctive Neoplasm of Von Hippel–Lindau Disease

Mai P. Hoang, etal.

Am J Surg Pathol 2001;25:602-609 Abstract quote

The dominantly inherited von Hippel–Lindau disease is characterized by clear cell neoplasms in various organs including the kidney and pancreas. Determination of primary versus metastatic lesion in this setting can be a diagnostic dilemma.

The authors present five cases of clear cell endocrine pancreatic tumor (EPT) closely mimicking renal cell carcinomas in five patients with a family history or histologic evidence of von Hippel–Lindau disease. In fact, two of these tumors were confused with metastatic renal cell carcinoma by fine-needle aspiration.

All five tumors had a component of clear cells arranged in nests, cords, and tubules with central hemorrhage separated by thin-wall vessels resembling renal cell carcinoma. However, these tumors also exhibited cords and festoons and a gyriform pattern suggestive of an endocrine neoplasm, and expressed chromogranin and synaptophysin. Vascular invasion was identified in four tumors, one of which metastasized. The concurrent primary renal cell carcinomas and the multicentric microcystic adenomas found in three patients did not show reactivity for the neuroendocrine markers. Focal clear cell change was noted in only one of 29 endocrine pancreatic tumors arising in patients without von Hippel–Lindau disease. Eleven metastatic renal cell carcinomas in the pancreas did not show immunoreactivity with the endocrine markers.

Clear cell EPTs closely mimicking renal cell carcinoma are distinctive neoplasms of von Hippel–Lindau disease. In contrast to clear cell EPT, metastatic renal cell carcinoma does not express neuroendocrine markers and lacks neurosecretory granules by electron microscopy. Von Hippel–Lindau disease should be strongly suspected in patients with renal cell carcinoma, clear cell EPT, and multifocal microcystic serous adenomas.


Retinal hemangioblastoma in von Hippel-Lindau disease: a clinical and molecular study.

Dollfus H, Massin P, Taupin P, Nemeth C, Amara S, Giraud S, Beroud C, Dureau P, Gaudric A, Landais P, Richard S.

Federation de Genetique, Ophthalmology Department, Hopitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2002 Sep;43(9):3067-74 Abstract quote

PURPOSE: To assess the natural history of retinal manifestations in von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease and to study the genotype-phenotype correlation.

METHODS: Data concerning 103 patients with VHL retinal manifestations and 108 patients without VHL retinal manifestations were extracted from the French VHL database. A retrospective study was performed by questionnaire. Patients were classified into three visual morbidity groups. Molecular analysis of the VHL gene was performed in 196 patients.

RESULTS: The mean age of ocular manifestations detection was 24.8 years. In half of the cases, the ocular manifestations revealed the disease. Half of the cases had bilateral involvement. Visual morbidity was significantly associated with the retinal hemangioblastoma count but not with other ocular or general characteristics. One third of the patients were classified in the worst visual morbidity group at the end of follow-up. Mutations were detected in 81% of patients with retinal hemangioblastomas and in 71% of patients without retinal involvement. Using a Poisson model and a marginal approach, the number of hemangioblastomas, age-adjusted, was 2.1 times higher in patients who had a substitution than in patients with a truncation (95% CI, 1.05-4.44; P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Visual loss remains one of the major complications of VHL disease, confirming the importance of early ophthalmologic screening. Visual morbidity was not related to the type of extraocular manifestation but appeared to be related to the type of germline mutation. However, only further genetic and clinical studies in a larger series of patients will clearly determine the genotype-phenotype relationship.



Metastasis of renal cell carcinoma to central nervous system hemangioblastoma in two patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease.

Hamazaki S, Nakashima H, Matsumoto K, Taguchi K, Okada S.

Department of Pathology, Okayama University Hospital, Japan.

Pathol Int 2001 Dec;51(12):948-53 Abstract quote

Here we report tumor-to-tumor metastases identified in two patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease.

The first patient had bilateral renal carcinomas and multiple cerebellar hemangioblastomas, and the second patient had a renal carcinoma and multiple hemangioblastomas in the retina, cerebellum and spinal cord. A cerebellar lesion from the first patient and a spinal lesion from the second patient contained two distinct components. The inner part of these tumors consisted of a nested mass of polygonal clear cells that expressed cytokeratin and epithelial membrane antigen, while the outer part of the tumors showed proliferation of capillaries and intervening foamy stromal cells that were negative for cytokeratin and epithelial membrane antigen. The tumors were thus considered to be hemangioblastomas complicated by metastatic lesions of renal cell carcinoma of clear cell type.

These cases indicate that tumor-to-tumor metastasis should be considered when hemangioblastoma contains a clear cell carcinoma component in the setting of VHL disease, and that immunohistochemical staining for cytokeratin and epithelial membrane antigen is useful for the diagnosis.

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