Skin tumours are encountered by dermatologists on a regular basis. In most cases, the tumor is the patient’s primary concern and reason for a consultation, although tumors are also discovered as incidental findings during surgery or physical examinations. While some tumours are easily identified, others require further diagnosis prior to treatment. To treat all skin conditions effectively, clinicopathological correlation between treating doctors, dermatologists and laboratory scientists is absolutely necessary.
Pathology is a medical science dedicated to the study of disease origins and nature. It incorporates an understanding of conditions that can influence disease, along with disease processes as it evolves or spreads. Pathology uncovers any deviation from the normal, healthy state, providing medical practitioners with the information they require to treat the disease effectively. In a broad sense, pathological disturbance can affect both body and mind and create an imbalanced environment where skin conditions or disease are likely to manifest. Clinico-pathological correlation is the surest means of treating disease during the early stages of development.
Clinicopathological correlation in dermatology
In the context of dermatology, the science of dermatopathology investigates structural and chemical changes that occur when healthy skin is attacked by skin disease. Dermatopathology is often focussed on examination of biopsy specimens, providing treating specialists with accurate data about unnatural growths, including skin cancers.
Many skin diseases share similar traits, making interpretation of skin specimens difficult when observed in isolation from other clinical input. Accurate diagnosis is also made difficult when patients visit various unrelated practitioners in their quest for good health. Professional dermatologists expect accurate diagnosis prior to performing surgical or other interventions, and clinicopathological correlation is essential to make sure the treatment is targeted and disease-specific.
The pathologist plays a crucial role in the diagnosis of biopsy samples, especially in regard to cancers including melanoma. After investigating the structure of the skin sample, a pathologist can provide an accurate diagnosis, or in some cases a differential diagnosis providing several explanations for the disease. It’s only after pathological findings are integrated with clinical information that a final diagnosis and treatment plan can be formed.
Dedicated dermatology clinics for clinicopathological correlation
The easiest means of avoiding misdiagnosis or loss of vital patient information is to visit a reputable dermatology clinic for all skin problems. At Pymble Dermatology, patients have access to the latest medical technology in an environment overseen by highly qualified medical experts. Services include total body photography ( correlate with Melanoma Institute of Australia ) and sequential short term digital monitoring, enabling patients to access accurate data regarding their own skin condition and consult with the dermatologist when required.
Pymble Dermatology physicians work closely with pathologists and technicians to ensure all patient information is retained for cross-referencing before making a final decision regarding surgery. Every link in the chain of information is important when it comes to invasive skin diseases, so utilising the dedicated efforts of a close-knit medical team makes a lot of sense. Without this teamwork, and despite the best intentions, a fragmented diagnosis and treatment plan can fail. In some cases, the biopsy sample isn’t fully representative of the whole disease, and without correlation between clinicians and pathologists, the diagnosis will only be partially complete. Clinico-pathological correlation avoids this possibility in a number of ways, including:
- Ensuring the biopsy is taken from the correct lesion
- Correct and up-to-date medical information is shared by treating doctors
- The biopsy is in good condition suitable for examination
- Processing errors are avoided
- Lesions that are in early development can be revisited at a later date for further analysis
Accurate micro staging techniques are used to investigate skin growths from the epidermis cellular level to the deepest extension of the disease. The human body is an incredibly complicated biological machine requiring targeted methods for treating invasive cancer and other diseases. Dermatological curative methods work best when patients, dermatologists and pathologists are all on the same page.