Mesothelioma Team: Pathologist

A pathologist is a physician who specializes in diagnosing disease by examining body tissues and fluids through a microscope. To be a pathologist, a doctor must go through a five-year residency training program and complete an examination given by the American Board of Pathology. Upon passing this exam, the pathologist is “Board-certified”.

When you have a biopsy, or otherwise have tissue or fluid removed from your chest or abdomen, those tissue and fluid samples will go to a pathologist for examination. The pathologist studies the samples to understand the nature and cause of your disease. He or she is trained to interpret changes in cellular or tissue structure and function caused by the disease process.

When your pathologist looks at your tissues and fluids through a microscope, he or she is able to see the individual cells and their structure. Through the use of special staining techniques, he or she can determine the cell type of the cancer or mesothelioma. Because mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose even under the microscope, the pathologist may also perform other tests such as an immunohistochemistry test or a DNA microarray analysis.

After examining all the tissue and fluid samples, your pathologist will issue a written report describing his or her findings.  Your primary care physician (PCP) and oncologist will use the pathology report to confirm your diagnosis and determine the proper course of treatment.