Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Cancer, Pathology and Medicine

The Scientific Disciplines in Medicine are vast and evergrowing. However, all of these subjects can be placed broadly into three categories

1)Anantomy - Where everything is
2)Physiology - What everything does
3)Pathology - The mechanisms behind disease

This is a bit simplistic and it ignores the human element of medicine, or the art of medicine as I like to call it (dealing with patients, providing empathy, using the science to make the correct diagnosis etc). But it will do for this post. At the moment I am heavily involved in cancer pathology. I have learnt how it can be classified, the genetics behind it, how they can be staged and graded to give us information about prognosis. Cancer and Cancer Pathology has many subtleties, but many "rules of thumb," that reflect medicine as a whole.

A rule is thumb is that benign tumours have a better outcome to malignant ones, they are less agressive for instance. But sometimes this means that they respond less to treatment than to malignant ones as the cancer cells divide more slowly and are less responsive to drugs. They may be situated next to a nerve or a blood vessel and therefore lead to problems.

This is not just seen at the histological level but at the "patient" level. At Multidisciplinary meetings, different specialities from Nurses to Surgeons will come together to discuss how best to treat a patient. In many cases they will decided whether or not a patient will need surgery. This depends not just on the cancer but on other factors such as the general health of the patients - will it do more harm than good?

I suppose the message behind this post is that medicine and healthcare are complex at many different layers, one of the reason why I like what I'm doing so much.

PS - Good news about the cricket


Am currently studying medicine somewhere in the UK and this is my blog. I hope to blog regularly, not just on medics related things, but anything that interests and/or amuses me