Newly launched Telepathology Consultation Centre ready to fight cancer internationally

Geneva 03 August 2000The new Internet project of the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), which allows pathologists to exchange opinions, digital images and up-to-date information in the field of tumour diagnostics on the World Wide Web, was officially launched on July 3rd, 2000 in Berlin, Germany. At present, telepathology, based on point-to-point communication, is getting more and more popular but is still limited, which is partly due to the lack of a professional service which establishes the link between requests for assistance and an expert panel. The newly launched UICC-Telepathology Consultation Centre service should be rapid, independent of location and time, and should be continuously available.


To benefit from the Internet technology, the UICC decided in 1998 to establish, under its Detection and Diagnosis Programme, a worldwide advisory and consultation project for oncological surgical pathology, known as the UICC Telepathology Consultation Centre (UICC-TPCC), co-ordinated from Berlin, Germany, by Professor Manfred Dietel, at the Charité University Hospital, Institute of Pathology.

"The new, cost-effective way of consultation on the Internet, free of charge for the user, will improve and control the quality of histological and cytological diagnosis in tumour pathology, providing better health care all over the world", stated Dr. Miklós Bodó, Chairman of the UICC Detection and Diagnosis Programme.

The Centre is to facilitate and standardise the procedure of telepathology in the field of tumour diagnostics and to contribute to the integration of quality standards and ethical rules under the auspices of the UICC. Through collaboration with Siemens AG Medical Engineering in Erlangen, and based on the Siemens MEDSTAGE technology, the technical procedure has been launched on July 3rd, 2000 in Berlin.

The UICC-TPCC is a first. Doctors in remote areas of the world will soon be able to exchange opinions, digital images and up-to-date information with expert pathologists throughout the world. Doctors with patients suffering from complications not frequently seen can access a wealth of information and will be able to choose appropriate approaches after careful investigation.

Telepathology opens the access to globally distribute new developments of diagnostic standards, e.g. of the UICC-TNM system, the World Health Organisation (WHO) terminology, international diagnostic standards, e.g. the SNOMED/ICD-O code, and current information on actual technologies in a direct and rapid way. Furthermore, the approach will open the possibility of high quality of education and teaching which is of utmost importance for the future of pathology, thus having a high impact on the adequate treatment of tumours.

"The idea of a UICC-Telepathology Consultation Centre has now become reality", commented Dr. Manfred Dietel from the Institut für Pathologie, Rudolf-Virchow-Haus, Germany, and Chairman of the UICC-TPCC Project. "The first centre, which starts in Berlin at the Charité Hospital, works via the Internet and is thus available to every pathologist around the world.

The UICC-programme will concentrate on providing services to developing countries, offering local pathologists an easy and time-saving access to high-quality histopathological diagnoses. Apart from this, UICC-TPCC will focus on smaller institutes of pathology, located in particular in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, but also in Western Europe, and in North and Latin America. These institutions will have the chance to get an advice of experts in order to transfer this information to the local clinicians who will include this data into the decision of their therapy.

The UICC currently can rely on more than 50 highly experienced colleagues who agreed to serve as UICC experts. The list of associated experts is growing daily. In the future the consultation centre approach could be expanded to other fields, such as teleradiology, tele-ultrasound, etc. More details on the TPCC service are available at the Web site of the UICC-Telepathology Consultation Centre Project.

Leslie Versweyveld

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