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Pathologists study how the disease processes may be incited or exacerbated by a variety of external and internal influences, including trauma, infections, poisoning, loss of blood flow, autoimmunity, inherited or acquired genetic damaga, or errors of development.

Physicians who practice pathology diagnose and characterize disease in living patients by examining biopsies and other specimens. For example, the vast majority of cancer diagnoses are made or confirmed by a pathologist. Pathology is a unique medical specialty in that pathologists typically do not see patients directly, but rather serve as consultants to other physicians. Pathologists diagnosis disease and gain other clinically significant information through the examination of tissues and cells. This generally involves gross and microscopic visual examination of tissues, with special stains and immunohistochemistry employed to visualize specific proteins and other substances in and around cells.

  • Surgical pathology is the most significant and time-consuming area of practice for most anatomical pathologists. Surgical pathology involves the gross and microscopic examination of surgical specimens, as well as biopsies submitted by non-surgeons such as general internists, medical subspecialists, dermatologists and interventional radiologists.
  • Cytopathology is concerned with the microscopic examination of whole, individual cells obtained from smears or fine needle aspirates.

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