Standardizing analysis of intra-tumoral heterogeneity with computational pathology

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2023 Sep;62(9):526-539. doi: 10.1002/gcc.23146. Epub 2023 Apr 17.


Many malignant cancers like glioblastoma are highly adaptive diseases that dynamically change their regional biology to survive and thrive under diverse microenvironmental and therapeutic pressures. While the concept of intra-tumoral heterogeneity has become a major paradigm in cancer research and care, systematic approaches to assess and document bio-variation in cancer are still in their infancy. Here we discuss existing approaches and challenges to documenting intra-tumoral heterogeneity and emerging computational approaches that leverage artificial intelligence to begin to overcome these limitations. We propose how these emerging techniques can be coupled with a diversity of molecular tools to address intra-tumoral heterogeneity more systematically in research and in practice, especially across larger specimens and longitudinal analyses. Systematic documentation and characterization of heterogeneity across entire tumor specimens and their longitudinal evolution has the potential to improve our understanding and treatment of cancer.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; computer vision; deep learning; molecular profiling; tumor heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Neoplasms* / pathology

Grants and funding