College of American Pathologists
Printable Version

  From transitional cell to
  ruothelial carcinoma


cap today

August 2004
Cover Story

Related article:
Bladder biopsies in step with clinical side

William Check, PhD

A minor but biologically meaningful revision in the new classification for interpreting bladder tumor biopsies is the change from "transitional cell carcinoma" to "urothelial carcinoma." "The big push for that came out of work in the early 50s from grandfather of urologic pathology, Meyer Melicow, MD, at Columbia," says Michael Cohen, MD, head of the Department of Pathology at University of Iowa Health Care. "Dr. Melicow was a representative of that era of urologic pathology in which surgeons were trained in a subspecialty." He was a surgeon designated by his department to be a urologic pathologist. "When he coined the term ’urothelium,’ it met with some resistance among pathologists," Dr. Cohen says. "Their thought was if you had to have urothelium, you might have to have gastrothelium. In hindsight, Dr. Melicow was on the mark." It has become clear that the epithelium that lines the bladder and the rest of the urinary tract is unique. "Urothelium" is now preferred to "transitional cell."

William Check is a medical writer in Wilmette, Ill.