Pathology is a medical specialty devoted to the study of disease -- particularly the changes that occur in the tissues, organs, and cells of the body as a result of disease. Physicians who specialize in pathology are calledpathologists.
Chester County Hospital has provided clinical and anatomic laboratory services to residents of Chester County and neighboring communities for more than 50 years. When looking for a place to have your lab work, lab studies, or lab testing done, we have four convenient locations from which to choose.
About Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
The field of pathology has two main branches:
- Anatomic pathology involves examination of tissue specimens that have been surgically removed from the body (biopsy) or examination of the whole body (autopsy) to determine the cause of disease. Anatomic pathologists examine the appearance of the tissues in their whole (gross) state down to their cellular makeup.
- Clinical pathology involves laboratory testing and analysis of body fluids (e.g., blood, urine, sputum, cerebrospinal fluid) and tissue specimens. For example, clinical pathologists perform tests on blood and other body fluids to identify the cause of an infection. They also run and interpret tests of the chemical components of blood and body fluids to look for signs of an organ system malfunction.
Pathologists may train in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, or both. After completing this training, pathologists may then may decide to pursue specialized training in a particular area of pathology, such as transfusion/blood banking, cytopathology, or hematopathology.
Unlike most physicians, pathologists do not deal directly with patients. Instead, they spend most of their time in the laboratory, working behind the scenes to collect information needed to make a diagnosis and plan and carry out treatment. Pathologists compile their findings in a pathology report, which is used by the medical team to help determine the best course of treatment for a particular patient. Thus, while not visible to patients, pathologists are an integral part of the health care team, serving as consultants and helping to guide patient care.
Pathologists are especially important in the care of patients with cancer, providing critical information needed to individualize treatment. Once a cancer diagnosis is established, pathologists perform additional tests that can help determine:
- Where the cancer started
- The specific cell type of the cancer
- Properties of the cancer cells
- Presence of genetic markers
From the pathology report, the medical team will get a detailed description of the tumor, how the tumor cells look under a microscope compared with normal cells, and tumor size and margins. Pathologists also provide information about how quickly a tumor might grow and spread.
Pathology and Chester County Hospital
Recognized for Excellence in Service by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the Laboratory is accredited by CAP and The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The Blood Bank at Chester County Hospital is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks.
For more information about pathologists on the Medical Staff at Chester County Hospital, call our Physician Referral Service at 800-789-PENN (7366) or visit the Find a Doctor section of our website.