[17 May 2016] The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published an updated classification of central nervous system tumours, setting a new standard for brain tumour research and communication between different centers around the world. The revised fifth edition is a major update to the existing 2007 classification and brings the naming and grouping of brain tumours into line with current scientific understanding and technology. For the first time, the new WHO classification combines the genetic information of brain tumours with their histology (the way the tumour looks under a microscope), thus formulating a more accurate concept for how brain tumour diagnoses should be named and structured.
This new classification is the culmination of work by a collaboration of 117 experts from 20 different countries and will allow for more accurate diagnosis, treatment planning and prognosis. With the new classification, brain tumour patients in clinical trials may be stratified into groups that reflect the molecular profile of their tumour, allowing effective targeted treatments to be found more easily. The new classification will also aid researchers by helping them to make more precise analysis of data in the lab, and to accurately compare their results with other institutions.
Within the updated classification, glioblastomas are now organised according to their IDH mutation status, while some entities have been deleted that no longer have diagnostic and/or biological relevance. Newly identified tumour types have been incorporated into the classification and use of the diagnosis “oligoastrocytoma” is now discouraged in favour of astrocytoma or oligodendroglioma. All changes can be found online in the 2016 World Health Organization Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System summary.
The IBTA is excited by the publication of the new classification and recognises that it represents a significant step forward in the ongoing journey to improve brain tumour patient treatment and care. The IBTA also extends its gratitude to the many experts whose hard work has brought about the updated classification, which will serve to benefit brain tumour patients all around the world.