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5 Reasons Anatomic Pathology Labs Must Expand into Molecular Pathology

Molecular pathology is a branch of pathology in which different techniques are used to analyze a tumor’s DNA, RNA, or protein, and identify the changes, that may help in the diagnosis, prognosis, monitoring, or management of the patient.

Molecular pathology is not new in the world of pathology. In fact, it has been around for over 40 years and several techniques have been developed for both research and clinical practice.  These techniques are always changing, but the ones most routinely used today include:

  • PCR
  • DNA Microarray
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Next Generation Sequencing

While there is still much to be learned and implemented into practice, it is widely accepted that molecular pathology is not only here to stay, but will continue to have an expanding role in the practice of pathology.

As  John Howe, Ph.D., director of the molecular diagnostics laboratory at Yale School of Medicine states:

“We are at the beginning stages of understanding what those changes to the DNA sequence that indicate disease mean and why they occurred,” Howe says. “We have all this additional information, and now we need to figure out what to do with it – how to best use and apply this new knowledge.”

Research scientists are using this vast new amount of information to try and focus more deeply on understanding various diseases. “The more we truly understand about diseases, the more refined a diagnosis and treatment can become,” Howe says.

Even as we’ve seen great advancements in molecular pathology, anatomic pathology labs still question whether making the move to molecular is right for them. To help with your decision, we’ve outlined the top five benefits our clients obtain when expanding into molecular.

5 Reasons Anatomic Pathology Labs Must Expand into Molecular Pathology

1. Enable Precision Medicine

Molecular pathology opens a whole new world of information that provides pathologists with more insights than ever. Gaining insight into a tumor’s genetic makeup, arms pathologists with the data to provide more personalized diagnoses in turn providing personalized care aka precision medicine.

For example, lung cancer continues to be a leading cause of death worldwide accounting for 11.4% of all newly diagnosed cancers. There are claims that lung cancer is responsible for up to  1.5 million deaths, almost 20% of cancer-related deaths.

As one example, we are now able to test for EGFR mutations and if positive, treat patients with a personalized therapy approach based on the tumor’s genetic makeup. Testing for EGFR and other mutations has become standard practice in the management of patients with lung cancer.

2. Expand Diagnosis to Assist in Better Patient Care

Creating consistent and accurate diagnoses is a top priority for any lab. Anatomic pathologists rely heavily on the information and insights provided through microscopic analysis. However microscopic analysis can only provide so much information and does have its limitations.

Without the use of molecular pathology, pathologists rely heavily on experience and knowledge to try and put cases into specific buckets. Which can be extremely hard and sometimes result in patients obtaining conflicting diagnoses.

When anatomic pathologists incorporate molecular pathology into their practice, they provide an extra “layer” of information for the management of the patient. Personalized medicine treatments can be provided that may be more effective with fewer side effects. For example, in oncology, molecular pathology identifies patients whose targeted therapies may be more effective than traditional chemotherapy.

3. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Physicians today, have a lot on their plates, just like everyone else in the healthcare industry. And just like everyone else in the healthcare industry, physicians too, are looking at ways to make their lives easier.

One way they are doing so is by consolidating their vendors. In the past couple of years, we have seen an emerging trend in which physicians are switching to laboratories that provide comprehensive testing menus in-house. Not only does it reduce turnaround times, but it also reduces the logistical complexity and management of multiple laboratories.

Anatomic laboratories that offer molecular tests, can take advantage of this trend and gain a competitive advantage over traditional anatomic pathology laboratories.

4. Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Allied market research states that the molecular diagnostic market was valued at 9.2 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to 23.9 billion by 2030 – that is just a couple of short years away.

By not jumping into molecular pathology, you’re essentially leaving money on the table, allowing your competition to grab it. As I mentioned above, we’re only on the very cusp, and the field of molecular diagnostics is only going to be uncovering more and more capabilities.


5. Provide a Better Work Environment for Pathologists

It is no secret there is a shortage of pathologists. Being able to retain your current team if not already, should be a major priority for every lab.

A way to ensure retention is to provide a collaborative environment where pathologists can learn from each other. By expanding into molecular, you enable just that.  You’re providing your pathologist with a way to remain at the forefront of the latest diagnostic advancements.Molecular pathology

In addition, expanding into molecular pathology enables your anatomic pathologists to learn and grow their knowledge while also expanding their network beyond anatomic pathology. As diagnosis gets more complex, pathologists with better networks could provide higher quality patient care. We have seen this network be a competitive advantage for regional labs.

NovoPath 360 Makes it Easy to Expand into Molecular Pathology

NovoPath 360 supports anatomic and molecular testing from a single platform. We’re not kidding see it for yourself. – Schedule a demo.

NovoPath 360 provides labs with a way to grow their practice while reducing the complexity of their LIS. Laboratories can run anatomic and molecular tests from a single case and provide physicians with one comprehensive, easy-to-read report.

Beyond molecular, our anatomic pathology clients are finding great success by expanding their testing menus to include:

  • FLOW
  • FISH
  • Molecular
  • Morphology
  • Cytogenetics
  • NGS
  • Lab-developed tests

Schedule a demo and see how NovoPath 360 can easily support anatomic pathology and molecular pathology workflows.

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