Pathology is a “basic approach to a better understanding of disease and therefore a foundation of sound clinical medicine” (Robbins 1957). We rely on pathology to diagnose inflammatory disorders or cancers, to select appropriate and personalized treatments, to screen for congenital diseases, cancer or other conditions, and to monitor progress of disease or side effects of treatments. Pathology touches most clinical disciplines and overall is involved in approximately 70% of all patient diagnoses. Pathology, slightly or heavily, affect nearly all personal lives, in some cases from before we are born or even after we die. Compared to other clinical disciplines, medical students perceive pathology as not relevant, however, in the course of their professional activities most doctors will consult hundreds of pathology reports. The transversal module of pathology will help students to appreciate the role of pathology in the modern clinical practice. It will offer the opportunity of integration and synthesis of most medical specialties. Rather than a systemic repetition of general or organ specific pathology as presented in the bachelor, the course will highlight the clinical implications of pathological findings and provide a solid base for clinical reasoning. For instance, while studying cardiovascular pathology, students will learn more about related topics, ranging from the significance of autopsies to the importance of a multidisciplinary team to investigate possible inherited causes of sudden death. The course will provide information on basic principles, such as the relevance of a tumor classification, appropriate biopsy procedures in the clinical practice, critical reading of pathology reports, and interpretation and limits of molecular pathology and genetic tests. The introduction of digital pathology will soon facilitate the sharing of histological slides with clinical colleagues who, in contrast to the recent past, will most likely need fundamental knowledge on histopathology to make precise diagnosis and to select the best treatments for their patients.
Reference textbook: Robbins and Cotran Pathologic basis of disease, 10th edition, Elsevier Saunders 2020. Histopathological course (digital): https://v2.pathorama.ch/.