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ID 1005

Diagnosis, Pathology

Description:
Pathology has long been associated with medical development and patient treatment and care. Throughout history pathologists have been trained to observe and recognize abnormalities to diagnose and treat the condition.
Transcript:
Pathology As the study of disease, pathology has long been associated with medical development and patient treatment and care. Throughout history pathologists have been trained to observe and recognize the abnormal in order to diagnose and treat the condition. Today, many disorders including cancers are diagnosed and confirmed by pathologists. Sub-specialties such as cytopathology or molecular pathology are making use of new diagnostic tools in the continuing study of disease. Click on the buttons below to find out more about cancer pathology. Angelo De Marzo M.D., Ph.D. is a pathologist at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. His current research focuses on the inflammatory response and its link to prostate cancer. The research may lead to new diagnostic tests for early detection. “Every laboratory test in the hospital is run in theory by pathologists, and so they actually are responsible for the output of every lab value, even blood, blood work, serum analyses and what not. The type of pathologist that I am that actually is fairly common that people would know about or maybe not know about or maybe they don’t know about is a surgical pathologist. So if you think about at Hopkins we have maybe 30 operating rooms. Every single specimen from a little tiny piece of skin to a very large tumor mass ends up in the department of surgical pathology. The surgeons never make their own diagnosis anymore. In the early 1900s they did; now what they do is they take out the specimen, it goes to pathology, surgical pathology, the pathologist or technician will basically slice up that specimen into a portion that will ultimately be looked at under a microscope. And then the surgical pathologist looks at it under the microscope and decides yes, this is benign, this is malignant, or is cancer or is not. So every diagnosis of a piece of tissue is done by a surgical pathologist. There is another branch of pathology called cytopathology. And there instead of looking at whole pieces of tissue we look at individual cells. So a surgeon or clinician might stick a needle into a lesion and pull out individual cells and smear them on a slide and that way you have individual cells that a cytopathologist looks at and can determine whether it is benign or malignant for instance.” “Most people don't realize all human tissue is actually transparent until we apply special dyes. So we typically use hemotoxilyn – a very beautiful dye – hemotoxilyn is actually from the bark of a tree. We've been using it for almost 100 years in this country. When we look at that under the microscope we look for a couple things. We usually use the architecture of the cells, how they are arranged together, and also the individual cells themselves. And so a cancer cell, the nucleus of the cell gets very big and it absorbs more dye. It's called hyperchromasia. The nucleus gets abnormal in shape and so in general, pathologists can tell the biological behavior and can guess it by changes in cell shape and structure.” “If you think about the cells as a community of people, normal people would be a group of students in a lecture that are kind of sitting with their shirts and ties nice and orderly. They’re not talking, they’re not throwing spitballs. They are behaving very nicely and listening to the teacher. A cancer cell would be a population of students that are running around throwing paper airplanes, they are not dressed properly, one might be sitting on another one’s lap. The cells literally don’t behave in terms of their structure and they might invade their next door neighbor’s space. Some of them are too big and some of them are too small so you get what is called polymorphism. So normal, in this analogy, all the kids in the class would all be the same height and weight. In the cancer cell you have a 300 pounder, next to a one pounder, next to you know all different types of people. So that they really socially don’t behave properly as a cell and that’s really what we are looking for.” These are examples of cell preparations that pathologists examine in order to determine a diagnosis. See if you can identify the abnormal sample (right or left) and then click on the answer button to find out if you're correct. Cervical Cells Image left: This shows a comparison between normal columnar endocervical cells and small severely dyskaryotic cells. Image right: This shows a normal section of the cervix, with endocervical cells interspersed with metaplastic squamous epithelium. Lymph Node Cells Image left: These are cells, centrocytes, collected from a normal lymph node. Note the similar sizes and shapes of all the cells. Image right: These are cells, centrocytes, collected from a lymphoma. Note the size and shape differences. Prostate Gland Cells Image left: These are cells collected from a prostate gland with adenocarcinoma. Note how the cells are less distinct and have less cytoplasm. Image right: These are cells collected from a normal prostate gland.
Keywords:
sidney kimmel comprehensive cancer center, sidney kimmel comprehensive cancer center at johns hopkins, diagnosis pathology, surgical pathologist, disease pathology, comprehensive cancer center, molecular pathology, surgical pathology, tumor mass, medical development, sidney kimmel comprehensive, continuing study, patient treatment, inflammatory response, prostate cancer, laboratory test, tiny piece, blood work, pathologists, diagnostic tools
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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