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The Power Of Pathology ~ Diagnosis and Treatment

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

✍🏻 Mandy Pickersgill | Clinical Lead for Pathology at Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust


What is the Role of the Pathology Laboratory in Diagnosis and Treatment? 💊

95% of all clinical pathways in UK healthcare rely on access to tests carried out in pathology laboratories.

Through GPs and hospital-based clinicians, we rely on pathology for:

  • Diagnosis: Pathology are involved in up to 70% of illness diagnoses of individuals of all ages, from newborns to the elderly.

  • Screening: Pathology screen for congenital diseases (those you are born with), cancer, and various other conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

  • Monitoring: Pathology monitor disease progression.

  • Treatment & Management: Pathology manage therapeutic treatments.

Chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular diseases account for nearly 50% of GP appointments and the pathology laboratory aid in diagnosis (diabetes and cardiovascular disease) and monitoring of treatment (depression) in nearly every case.


How is Pathology Involved in Testing? 🧪

There are 105 hospitals within England that provide pathology services, dealing with 500 million biochemistry tests and 130 haematology tests per year. An individual patient averages around 14 tests per visit to a healthcare professional.

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable chronic disease that is rising throughout the UK

It is estimated that nearly 5 million individuals will be diagnosed by 2025 and that 850,000 are living with the disease without knowing.

  • There is a very simple test called a glycated haemoglobin test, that is offered to individuals at risk of the disease.

  • The test measures the amount of blood sugar (glucose) attached to your haemoglobin (part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body).

  • Once detected, Type 2 diabetes can also be monitored using the same test.


How is Pathology Involved in Screening?

There are many disease screening programs, throughout the UK, that rely on the use of pathology laboratories to detect diseases in the treatable phase, before the disease can take effect.

Neonatal Screening: Identifying a disease in an early phase of life dramatically improves outcomes, allowing babies to live with the condition healthily.

  • The biggest screening program in the UK is the Newborn Bloodspot Screening Program offered to nearly 700,000 families every year.

  • The program relies on a bloodspot card being sent to the local screening laboratory, where it is tested for 9 treatable conditions.

Adult Screening: Aim to detect cancer and other diseases in the very early, treatable phase, improving the life expectancy of the patient.

  • At the other extreme of age, the next biggest screening pathway is the bowel cancer screening program offered to all adults between the age of 60 and 74.

  • Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK but it is also one with an effective screening program.

  • The program has been so effective that it is being expanded to cover everyone over the age of 50.

National Pathology Week 2023 #pathologyweek


From the very young to the very old, pathology sits at the heart of healthcare diagnoses and monitoring throughout the UK and worldwide.

How pathology supports all ages

Mandy Pickersgill, Clinical Lead for Pathology at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Written by: Mandy Pickersgill (Content Writer)

Edited by: Grace Pountney (Editor-in-Chief)


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Each week, at Science Snapshot, we answer your Science questions!

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Q: How can I get involved in National Pathology Week?

A: Visit the Royal College of Pathologists website to find out more about pathology and get involved in activities and events!


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