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A brief history of the pathology of the gonads.

Modern Pathology 2005 Februrary
Our understanding of gonadal pathology has reached its current state as a result of the contributions of numerous outstanding investigators. Knowledge of testicular tumor pathology dates back to the great British workers Percival Pott and Sir Astley Cooper but the single greatest early stride was made with the description in 1906 by the French urologist Maurice Chevassu of the seminoma. The seminal 1946 paper of Nathan B Friedman and Robert A Moore, which segregated out as a distinct entity embryonal carcinoma, is, however, the foundation for the current classification of testicular tumors. In that year Pierre Masson described the distinctive neoplasm, the spermatocytic seminoma. The 1950s saw the publication of an important paper by Frank J Dixon and Dr Moore and they also wrote the first series fascicle on testicular tumors. In this same timeframe, and thereafter, Robert E Scully made significant contributions to testicular pathology, writing the first English language paper on spermatocytic seminoma, describing several subtypes of sex cord tumor, and also the distinctive lesion of intersex, the gonadoblastoma, as well as playing a major role in 1980 in formulating the current classification of premalignant lesions of the testis. The current classification of testicular tumors was arrived at in the early 1970s when the World Health Organization, under the leadership of Dr FK Mostofi, who himself made notable contributions to testicular pathology, devised what is fundamentally the current classification of neoplasms of the male gonad. Although comments on ovarian pathology were made by such legendary figures of earlier times as Giovanni Battista Morgagni and Matthew Baillie, it is only in the mid to later years of the 19th century that contributions, mostly in Europe, began to move knowledge of ovarian pathology to its current state. Thomas Hodgkin, Richard Bright, and Sir James Paget all wrote extensively on ovarian neoplasms. In 1870, Heinrich Waldeyer, and later in that century, another German, Hermann Johannes Pfannenstiel wrote important papers on the surface epithelial tumors. The latter was likely the first to refer to neoplasms now known as of 'borderline malignancy' and also wrote on pseudomyxoma peritonei and other topics. Their work was followed by that of Robert Meyer who made monumental contributions to gynecological pathology, including recognizing the Brenner tumor as a distinctive neoplasm and proposing the first classification of Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors (arrhenoblastomas). He also coined the term 'disgerminoma' (soon changed to dysgerminoma) for the ovarian tumor that had been described in detail by the French investigator Marcel Chenot 5 years after Chevassu had mentioned the tumor in his paper describing the seminoma. During the Meyer era other significant contributions were made by, among others, Howard C Taylor writing on the borderline tumors and John A Sampson writing on endometriosis and tumors, associated with it. In the second-half of the 20th century major contributions were made by Gunnar Teilum of Denmark and Lars Santesson of Sweden. Dr Teilum delineated the morphologic features of the yolk sac tumor and noted the resemblance of papillary formations within it to the endodermal sinuses of the rat placenta. He also wrote extensively on sex cord tumors in both gonads. At a FIGO meeting in 1961 Dr Santesson played a major role in formulating the first organized classification of the surface epithelial-stromal tumors of the ovary and also promoted the endometrioid carcinoma as a special variant of ovarian cancer. In a career spanning over 50 years, Dr Scully was the architect of the modern classification of ovarian tumors being the driving force behind the influential 1973 World Health Organization classification of them. His many original observations have touched upon virtually all categories of ovarian tumor pathology. His second series fascicle 'Tumors of the Ovaries and Maldeveloped Gonads' utilized the WHO classification and presented a lucid elaboration of his by then vast experience with ovarian tumors. All the above have left a rich legacy which those who follow in their path will be challenged to equal.

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