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Pathology, by definition, is the study and diagnosis of disease through examination of organs, tissues, bodily fluids and whole bodies. Using our hospital’s laboratories, Mercyhealth’s pathologists and lab technicians work to test samples and diagnose disease through molecular, microscopic and chemical testing, ensuring that no Mercyhealth patient leaves without the correct diagnosis and treatment.

The National Cancer Institute explains what a pathologist does to determine a sample’s health:

In most cases, a doctor needs to do a biopsy or surgery to remove cells or tissues for examination under a microscope.

Some common ways a biopsy can be done are as follows:

  • A needle is used to withdraw tissue or fluid.
  • An endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is used to look at areas inside the body and remove cells or tissues.
  • Surgery is used to remove part of the tumor or the entire tumor. If the entire tumor is removed, typically some normal tissue around the tumor is also removed.

Tissue removed during a biopsy is sent to a pathology laboratory, where it is sliced into thin sections for viewing under a microscope. This is known as histologic (tissue) examination and is usually the best way to tell if cancer is present. The pathologist may also examine cytologic (cell) material. Cytologic material is present in urine, cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and spinal cord), sputum (mucus from the lungs), peritoneal (abdominal cavity) fluid, pleural (chest cavity) fluid, cervical/vaginal smears, and in fluid removed during a biopsy.

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