Answers to frequently asked questions

Who writes my pathology report?

Your pathology report has been written by an pathologist. A pathologist is a medical doctor (MD) with specialty training in one of several areas of pathology.

To become an pathologist, a person must first complete 4 years of medical school followed by 4-5 years of specialized residency training in pathology. In addition, most pathologists complete a 6th year of fellowship training where they become an expert in a specific area of the body (for example, breast pathology or gastrointestinal pathology).

All together, most pathologists complete 10 years of medical training before assuming an independent practice.​

Who else contributes to my report?

In many hospitals, other laboratory professionals work closely with your pathologist in the preparation of your report. For example, your specimen will be received at the laboratory by technical staff who will document your personal information (for example, your name, date of birth, gender, and home address) and confirm that the doctor sending the specimen has included all the mandatory information on the requisition.

The initial examination of your specimen (the ‘gross’ examination) will be performed by a pathologist’s assistant, a specially trained laboratory professional who measures the tissue, documents any abnormal areas, and samples the tissue for microscopic examination. All the observations and procedures performed by the pathologist’s assistant are included in the gross description of your pathology report. Your pathologist may choose to review the gross features of the case with the pathologist’s assistant if they need additional information.

While others may contribute to your pathology report, your pathologist is ultimately responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the entire report.

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