A Common Future for Pathology & Radiology?

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DO RADIOLOGISTS AND PATHOLOGISTS have a common future in the age of personalized medicine? That’s not an idle question as new technologies help both medical specialties to better understand how molecular processes play a role in various diseases.

Oncology may prove to be the powerful force that encourages collaboration and greater clinical integration between radiology and pathology. The catalyst in the process will be the use of molecular imaging and molecular diagnostics in tandem to provide personalized medicine services to patients. While scouting speakers and topics for the upcoming Molecular Summit on Integration of In Vivo and In Vitro Diagnostics (www.molecular-summit.com), our editor heard this scenario from experts in molecular imaging and their molecular pathologist col- leagues who were working together, generally in advanced research settings.

Admittedly, there are only a limited number of sites where molecular imaging and molecular diagnostics are being integrated and used in innovative ways to improve diagnosis, identify the most promising therapies, and monitor the patient’s progress. Most of this is high science and definitely several years from clinical acceptance and daily use.

On the other hand, there is undeniable enthusiasm as the molecular pathologists and their imaging colleagues describe successes and share their vision. These physicians express great confidence that their approach to integrating various molecular procedures will provide physicians with powerful new tools to diagnosis patients and cure their disease.

I call your attention to these points for a simple reason. Across healthcare, pathologists are not the only physicians immersing themselves in genetic medicine and molecular technologies. Within their own specialties, radiologists, cardiologists, and other classes of physicians are doing innovative research. Add to that mix the health informaticians who are working earnestly to pour disparate sets of clinical data into sophisticated software programs, crunch that data in complex ways, then deliver clinically-relevant information to the attending physician.

Thus, it would be naive to say that lab medicine will hold the lock and key on molecular information. Across the spectrum of medicine, experts in many different fields are tinkering with genetic science and molecular technologies. That makes it likely that pathologists will be more collaborative in coming years.

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