Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pathology Education

The second year of medical school certainly has a lot of information compared to first year. Fortunately, it is focused on the pathological abnormalities, which make learning the material much more fascinating. [Image provided by the National Cancer Institute]

Pathology

This field of study often associated with autopsies and coroner's investigates both the abnormal macroscopic and microscopic findings in anatomical tissues. Learning a subject that takes years to master is quite a challenge for the novice pathologist.

It has been difficult to narrow my study of the subject as there are so many sources to pull from. The professor has his way of disseminating the information and pathology review books are quite different from that style. I have learned that with more exposure to the subject, the better it falls into place. As with anything, repetition is bound to make a connection sooner or later. Since there is a grade at the end of all this, in this case I am hoping for sooner.

We started the year with cellular pathologies and more specifically when cells get out of control. One of the leading concerns today is cancerous growth whether on the skin, in an organ or rampant throughout the body. Although I certainly do not have a cure for it, I am just starting to appreciate what causes cancer and how it is manifested. Often times it is the result of a genetic deviation from normal that no longer suppresses rapid cell growth. However, there are environmental factors that contribute to the development of cancer too.

Examples of carcinogens include UV light, occupational chemicals, and even hormones. We are exposed to them in various amounts depending on our habits, environments and genetic vulnerabilities. There is little that can replace healthy eating, regular exercise, and minimal carcinogenic exposure. So until next time, don't get too much sun and stay away from those asbestos infested workplaces; it could mean the difference between life and death.

Clinical Corner

Asbestos Exposure

Despite workplace safety measures, exposure to asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma, a malignant cancer affecting the lining of the lungs and/or abdomen. Where pleural mesothelioma can cause difficulty breathing due to fluid in the lungs, peritoneal mesothelioma affects the intestines causing weight loss, pain, and fluid accumulation in the abdomen. The latter is also associated with bowel obstructions, anemia, and fever.

It is most commonly seen in individuals who work closely with asbestos or their families, but may not be symptomatic for years. Mesothelioma is diagnosed by a pathologist who obtains a biopsy for histological examination. It is treated by surgical removal of the organ involved, radiation or chemotherapy. It is difficult to treat and therefore has a poor prognosis. For this reason there are clinical trials being performed in an effort to find better outcomes.

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