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Hematopathologists are physicians who analyze and diagnose disorders found in blood, bone marrow, spleen, and thymus (the chest gland which produces white blood cells). Hematopathologists work in a laboratory setting, where they may test patient specimens for disease. Hematopathologists examine samples of blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and lymphatic lesions, which are submitted by patients or their specialist physicians. Hematopathologists can test for the following hematological (blood-related) conditions:
Hematopathologists detect diseases through a broad range of specialized testing techniques. Their interpretation of test results can facilitate an accurate patient diagnosis. These techniques include immunohistochemistry, a laboratory method which adds dyed antibodies to a tissue specimen. If the antibodies interact with antigens found in tissue samples, cancer may be present in the specimen. Flow cytometry uses laser beams and lights to measure and assess the cell characteristics of a sample. The cell characteristics may provide insight for the diagnosis of some cancers. To test for leukemia and lymphoma, hematopathologists may perform a peripheral smear examination. For this examination, a thin needle is used to extract a small marrow biopsy. Hematopathologists then prepare the biopsy sample on a slide under a microscope. Hematologists examine the sample's platelets and red and white blood cells, looking for abnormalities which may signal disease.
Other hematopathology testing techniques include:
Hematopathologists may work alongside pathologists, oncologists, pathology technicians, hematologists, molecular cytogeneticists, and other medical professionals.