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Choosing a Case Report Specimen FAQ
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Choosing a Case Report Specimen

One of the biggest roadblocks to publishing a case report is determining if a specimen is “Case Report Worthy.” While a specimen need not fit all criteria below, please use this as a guide in selecting specimens. 

Is it cancer?

The majority of case reports are on cancer vs a more benign process. Possible exceptions include rare syndromes and interesting autopsy findings.

Is it rare?

A striking presentation of a rare sarcoma is generally more alluring than an adenocarcinoma of the colon.

Is the PAs role paramount; can grossing knowledge be gained from the report?

A key part of the paper should focus on the actual grossing of the specimen. A biopsy can lead to fascinating histology, but a complex resection will have a more robust PA role and hence lend itself better to a case report. An ideal case report would have a take-away message for future grossing (the importance of a certain section in determining the final diagnosis, how knowledge of the patient’s history guided grossing technique, etc).

Is ancillary testing involved?

PAs are getting more and more involved in molecular and cytogenetic testing, and these make excellent additions to case reports.

Is it well-photographed?

Good gross and microscopic pictures add immeasurable value to any paper.

Is it something you would personally want to read about?

If the specimen you have in mind doesn’t perfectly fit the guide but you think it’s fascinating, write a case report! As with everything in pathology, there are exceptions to every rule.


The AAPA is an approved provider of continuing education programs in the clinical laboratory sciences through the ASCLS PACE program.
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