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Welcome to this new issue of the Journal of Hematopathology, the fourth and final one of 2009. We have thus completed volume 2, which I hope has been interesting. This issue contains another review on the 2008 WHO classification, which I trust you will find as useful as the previous ones, on which we received many positive comments. Now that we are getting used to the WHO book it is interesting to see how highly respected this book is. And rightly so, for it brings together the knowledge on hematological neoplasms and guides us with a classification. It is, however, a guide, and like any guide, things have already changed by the time it gets published. It is also a multi-author book with many contributors. Although the editors did an excellent job in harmonizing the chapters, it should not be a surprise that there are differences among some of them. It is a book to read and understand, but not to spell out every word. I sometimes get the impression that the text is taken too much as law written in stone. It remains important to go to the literature, new and old, and to use textbooks. More importantly, one needs to realize that it is work in progress.
The first decade of this century has now passed. We have seen many developments in medicine. In the year 2000 it was noted that we had entered an era where cancer would become a chronic disease, based on the knowledge explosion with regard to its biology. We are certainly seeing a major change: indeed, medicine has become molecular and evidence based, and drugs that target molecular pathways have become available. We see improvement for patients suffering from specific forms of hematological cancer, but we still have a long way to go. Our task as hematopathologists remains to diagnose disease processes accurately, and to achieve that we need increasingly molecular techniques. It is crucial that we implement these techniques with good knowledge of the possibilities and pitfalls, and we need reliable quality assurance systems. We also need to work in close collaboration with cytogeneticists and immunologists. The coming decade will be one of bringing bench to bedside, and hematopathologists will play a crucial role in that.
But in the end, like in the previous century and the decade just past, also in the next decade we will perform our work for people that suffer from disease, either indolent or aggressive, either with good outcome or bad. It is for them that we need to know more about the pathogenesis, and it is for them we implement new techniques, write papers, and create journals. To know that remains a rewarding inspiration.