By looking at the way that the cells are arranged, how they have developed and how they are functioning, it is possible to determine if a patient has a disease, inflammation, a cancer or a non-cancerous growth.
This is achieved by taking very thin slices of tissue and placing them onto glass slides. These are then dyed different colours, allowing the different cells to be examined under a microscope.
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Body fluids naturally contain cells, and cells can also be scraped from the surface of tissues. These cells can be collected and transferred onto glass slides where they are dyed and examined under the microscope for abnormalities.
A great deal of information can be gathered through assessing the relationship between the different types of cells and their arrangement, which is how abnormalities such as cancer can be identified.
Cellular pathology is essential to delivering cancer services within the UHB.
Pathologists present cellular pathology cases from patients with cancer at multi-disciplinary team meetings where they are discussed with other clinicians, the team of experts work together to decide an appropriate treatment plan or review how a treatment is progressing.
Although a large proportion of the work of the Cellular Pathology Laboratory is associated with the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer, diseases resulting from benign growths, inflammation and infectious agents are also evaluated.