Pathology as a medical specialty

Pathology as a medical specialty

Pathologists are doctors who diagnose and characterize disease in living patients by examining biopsies or bodily fluids. In addition, pathologists interpret medical laboratory tests to help prevent illness or monitor a chronic condition. The vast majority of cancer diagnoses are made by pathologists. Pathologists examine tissue biopsies to determine if they are benign or cancerous. Some pathologists specialize in genetic testing that can, for example, determine the most appropriate treatment for particular types of cancer. In addition, a pathologist analyzes blood samples from a patient's annual physical and alerts their primary care physician to any changes in their health early, when successful treatment is most likely. Pathologists also review results of tests ordered or performed by specialists, such as blood tests ordered by a cardiologist, a biopsy of a skin lesion removed by a dermatologist, or a Pap test performed by a gynecologist, to detect abnormalities. This mastectomy specimen contains an infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the breast. A pathologist will use immunohistochemistry and fluorescent in-situ hybridization to detect markers which determine the optimal chemotherapy regimen for this patient. Pathologists work with other doctors, medical specialty societies, medical laboratory professionals, and health care consumer organizations to set guidelines and standards for medical laboratory testing that help improve a patient's medical care and guide treatm

nt, as well as ensure the quality and safety of domestic and international medical laboratories. Pathologists may also conduct autopsies to investigate causes of death. Autopsy results can aid living patients by revealing a hereditary disease unknown to a patient's family. Pathology is a core discipline of medical school and many pathologists are also teachers. As managers of medical laboratories (which include chemistry, microbiology, cytology, the blood bank, etc.), pathologists play an important role in the development of laboratory information systems. Although the medical practice of pathology grew out of the tradition of investigative pathology, most modern pathologists do not perform original research. Pathology is a unique medical specialty. Pathology touches all of medicine, as diagnosis is the foundation of all patient care. In fact, more than 70 percent of all decisions about diagnosis and treatment, hospital admission, and discharge rest on medical test results.[8] Pathologists play a critical role on the patient care team, working with other doctors to treat patients and guide care. To be licensed, candidates must complete medical training, an approved residency program, and be certified by an appropriate body. In the US, certification is by the American Board of Pathology or the American Osteopathic Board of Pathology. The organization of subspecialties within pathology varies between nations, but usually includes anatomic pathology and clinical pathology.