What is a pathologist?

Medical doctors who specialise in the examination of tissue, body fluids and blood samples to diagnose disease and perform autopsies, as well as use laboratory tests to monitor the health of patients with chronic conditions, are called pathologists. Pathologists perform autopsies in order to determine the person’s cause of death and may also discover more information about the genetic progression of disease. This then allows family members of the deceased to take preventative action for their own health and can even aid researchers in developing future treatments.

When would I need a pathologist?

Although you may not realise it, you’ll have most likely dealt with a pathologist before. Pathologists examine any samples of blood, stool, urine, or tissue in order to analyse it and detect any abnormalities. Pathology tests are most often used for the screening of diseases, however, which means that if your GP believes you may be displaying the symptoms of a certain disease or illness he or she will send you to see a pathologist. Pathology allows for the early detection of conditions such as cancer, which may mean that your GP could send you to a pathologist if he or she believes you may have the illness. You may also need a pathologist in order to determine how likely it is that you may be carrying inherited or genetic diseases such as Down’s syndrome or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This may be useful if you are considering having a child.

How can a pathologist help me?

A pathologist can help you in multiple ways because pathology tests can be used for multiple things. Whether you feel you need to be checked for potential health risks, such as diabetes, which a doctor may feel you display the symptoms of, or need your cholesterol levels checking, a pathologist can help you. Similarly, if a doctor feels that you could be displaying symptoms that could be indicative of multiple diseases, such as tropical diseases, he or she may send you to a pathologist, who can help determine what your illness may be via some simple tests. Pathologists can also help you by monitoring the progression of a condition and determining whether it is getting better or worse, as well as by determining what illness you are suffering from and its severity in order that your doctor can consider treatment choices.

What should I expect when I see a pathologist?

If you need to visit a pathologist, you can usually expect that he or she will perform a test, or a number of tests, depending on what your doctor has requested and what symptoms of illness you are displaying. Be it a simple blood test, a pap smear test, a biopsy, or any other of a multitude of test that pathologists perform, you can expect to be given the results either the same day or a few days later, or even up to a few weeks later. After receiving your results your doctor will then diagnose you and decide on a course of treatment for the illness, allergy, disease or infection you may be suffering with.

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