What is Pathology?
Pathology is the study and diagnosis of disease through examination of organs, tissues, bodily fluids, and whole bodies (autopsies). Pathology also encompasses the related scientific study of disease processes, called general pathology. Medical pathology is divided into two main branches, anatomical pathology and clinical pathology.
General pathology, also called investigative pathology, experimental pathology, or theoretical pathology, is a broad and complex scientific field which seeks to understand the mechanisms of injury to cells and tissues, as well as the body’s means of responding to and repairing injury.
Areas of study include cellular adaptation to injury, necrosis, inflammation, wound healing, and neoplasia. It forms the foundation of pathology, the application of this knowledge to diagnose diseases in humans and animals.
The term ”general pathology” is also used to describe the practice of both anatomical and clinical pathology.
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.