Dr. Shamonki introduces herself and describes the pathologist's role and shares what women should know about pathology.
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The Role of a Pathologist Hi, I am Dr. Jaime Shamonki. I am a pathologist here at Saint John’s Health Center, which is affiliated with the John Wayne Cancer Institute. I am a pathologist with an expertise in breast surgical pathology. Here at Saint John’s we serve the west Los Angeles and Santa Monica area, and we also have patients with a wide referral basis. A pathologist is a doctor who actually serves as a consultant to other doctors. Some would say, “We are the doctor’s doctor,” and you will find that when you go in and you see a physician, a surgeon, or radiologist, when they take a biopsy or they excise a lesion, at some point, you will see your doctor again and there will be a pathology report. And there is usually a three-day or five-day window between the time that he does a procedure and you have a pathology report. And we are the ones who are responsible for taking care of that tissue; examining it and rendering a diagnosis. Well, I think that a breast cancer pathologist is something you should always be thinking about. I think a lot of times when women look for doctors they look for breast surgeon; they don’t necessarily think about who will be taking care of their breast specimen. Either the biopsy where your initial cancer is diagnosed or where somebody tells you that your lesion is benign, or after you have had a definitive procedure, say if you do have cancer, where do you go from there? There is a lot of very important information that comes out of that pathology specimen, the specimen that your surgeon will excise and send to pathology. You need to have to at least be aware that the information, which is derived from examination of that tissue, will have great consequences to how your future treatment is planned, even down to certain chemotherapy drugs that are chosen, or whether or not the surgeon needs to go back and re-excise any tissue. So, while you don’t need to look for a specialist in breast pathology, you should be aware that it’s a very important part of your healthcare, and typically if you go to a center that is a high-volume breast center, a place that specializes in breast surgery, there will be breast pathologists affiliated with that center. You should also keep in mind that, if you read your pathology report and if something doesn’t makes sense to you, you should be aware of the components of your pathology report and not hesitate to seek an expert opinion.