Many medical conditions, including all cases of cancer, must be diagnosed by removing a sample of tissue (biopsy) from the patient and sending it to a pathologist for examination. Any organ in the body can be biopsied using a variety of techniques, some of which require major surgery (e.g., staging splenectomy for Hodgkin's disease), while others do not even require local anesthesia (e.g., fine needle aspiration biopsy of thyroid, breast, lung, liver, etc). After the biopsy specimen is obtained by the doctor, it is sent for examination to another doctor, the anatomical pathologist, who prepares a written report with information designed to help the primary doctor manage the patient's condition properly.
The Department of Pathology at the University of Virginia offers patients and physicians in Virginia and nationally state-of-the-art diagnostic testing in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. Each year more than 24,000 surgical and 25,000 cytology specimens are examined and nearly 2 million laboratory tests are performed under the auspices of the Department.