Pathology is the medical specialty concerned with the study of the nature and causes of diseases. It underpins every aspect of medicine, from diagnostic testing and monitoring of chronic diseases to cutting-edge genetic research and blood transfusion technologies. Pathology is integral to the diagnosis of every cancer.
Pathology plays a vital role across all facets of medicine throughout our lives, from pre-conception to post mortem. In fact it has been said that “Medicine IS Pathology”.
Due to the popularity of many television programs, the word ‘pathology’ conjures images of dead bodies and people in lab coats investigating the cause of suspicious deaths for the police. That’s certainly a side of pathology, but in fact it’s far more likely that pathologists are busy in a hospital clinic or laboratory helping living people.
Pathologists are specialist medical practitioners who study the cause of disease and the ways in which diseases affect our bodies by examining changes in the tissues and in blood and other body fluids. Some of these changes show the potential to develop a disease, while others show its presence, cause or severity or monitor its progress or the effects of treatment.
The doctors you see in surgery or at a clinic all depend on the knowledge, diagnostic skills and advice of pathologists. Whether it’s a GP arranging a blood test or a surgeon wanting to know the nature of the lump removed at operation, the definitive answer is usually provided by a pathologist. Some pathologists also see patients and are involved directly in the day-to-day delivery of patient care.
Currently pathology has nine major areas of activity. These relate to either the methods used or the types of disease which they investigate. For further information on each discipline please click on one of the following: