chapter  39
Cerebral sarcoma
ByB. K. Kleinschmidt-DeMasters
Pages 12

Virchow in 1835 and 1846 had studied neuroglial cells and related them to types of brain tumors (Zülch, 1957). Although others had recognized the similarities grossly between gliomas and normal brain tissue as early as 1800, it was Virchow who combined the macroscopic with the microscopic study of neoplasms (Scherer, 1938, 1940a, 1940b). By the 1860s, he had identified several types of malignant cerebral tumors he called ‘sarcomas’ whose gross appearance on cut section manifested a soft, ‘fleshy’ appearance (sarcoma ‘resembling flesh’) (Abbott and Kernohan, 1943; Rubinstein, 1971). Within the ‘sarcoma’ category, Virchow further distinguished hard and soft forms, with many of the ‘soft forms’ representing what today we would consider glioblastoma (GBM) (Rubinstein, 1971; Zülch, 1957). Virchow’s ‘sarcomas’ were contrasted in his system with the CNS neoplasms of more benign appearance, which he termed ‘gliomas’ because of their gross appearance and in accordance with their architectural pattern and lesser cell density (Scherer, 1938, 1940a, 1940b; Rubinstein, 1971). Golgi later placed the emphasis almost exclusively on the microscopic, rather than the gross, features when he defined sarcomas as ‘neoplasms composed of round undifferentiated elements, in contrast to the benign gliomas, which consist of fiber-producing spindle cells’ (Rubinstein, 1971; Zülch, 1957).