Pathology is the branch of medicine that is involved in understanding the causes and processes of disease. It does this by looking at changes in the tissues of the body or in blood and other body fluids.
Some of these changes show the causes of the disease, while others provide critical information for the doctor in the diagnosis and treatment of illness.
These changes can often be used to reflect the severity of the disease, and are used to follow the effects of treatment.
Pathology involves a team of professionals working together to deliver high-quality care. Pathologists are the specialist medical practitioners in the team acting as the direct liaison between the laboratory and the referring medical practitioners (GPs or specialists). Pathologists also work very closely with medical laboratory scientists and technicians.
Together this team of professionals is responsible for running laboratories and for carrying out tests on various tissues including blood, body secretions and samples of tissue taken at surgery or as a part of a medical examination.
The results of these tests allow pathologists to understand what is causing an illness.
Some pathologists see patients and may be involved directly in the delivery of care.
Specialist pathology includes:
- Anatomic pathology
- Biomedical sciences
- Cancer research
- Chemical pathology
- Medical laboratory science
- Molecular diagnostics
The Royal College of Pathologists website outlines further career options.
The Pathology Professionals website also features information for medical students with respect to pathology as a career.
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