Surgical Pathology Q & A
Surgical pathology uses state-of-the-art techniques to help patients receive the most appropriate and most effective care for an array of serious medical conditions, including cancer. Maiden Lane Medical is a trusted provider of pathology services for patients from throughout the New York, NY, region, using advanced methods for the most accurate results.
What is surgical pathology?
Surgical pathology is the study of tissues removed or excised during surgery or from a biopsy (tissue sampling) to help diagnose a disease and guide treatment. Surgical pathologists examine tissue visually and under a microscope. Sometimes, tissue is examined following a procedure, and other times, it’s evaluated during the surgery to help guide the procedure. For instance, in certain cancer surgeries, surgical pathology performed during the surgical procedure can help the surgeon determine how much tissue to remove at the site of the cancer or in other areas like the lymph nodes. Surgical pathology is also helpful in identifying infectious agents in the blood or tissues, and pathologists often provide second opinions and consultation services for disease and conditions affecting many different organs and body systems.
How is tissue evaluated?
Once tissue is removed, it’s processed and often frozen or dyed to make visualization easier. Then it’s placed on a special slide and viewed through a microscope to look for specific indicators of diseases like cancer. Tissue is either obtained through a biopsy procedure which is performed solely to obtain a tissue sample, or from surgical resection, where a large amount of tissue is removed as part of the treatment of a disease, like tumor removal or skin cancer surgery.
How is surgical pathology used in diagnosing or staging cancer?
In addition to providing a surgeon with information and guidance during a surgical procedure, surgical pathology can also be used to tell the difference between cancerous and benign (non-cancerous) tissue and to detect early or very subtle signs of cancer that can help guide treatment.
What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is a surgical procedure used to treat melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. In the Mohs technique, the melanoma is removed and then evaluated by a pathologist to determine if all the edges or margins of the tissue are free of cancer cells. If a margin contains cancer cells, more tissue in that area is removed and then re-evaluated. This process continues until all margins are clear. Mohs surgery helps preserve as much healthy tissue as possible while still ensuring all the cancerous tissue is removed.