How to Save A Life
The power of pathology in detecting, treating and preventing life threatening diseases
When you’re feeling under the weather, a visit to the doctor can seem pretty routine: you notice the symptoms and decide to get a professional opinion, spill to the doc a history of your sickness and symptoms and the GP plays disease detective. However, doctors are only human, and sometimes the diagnosis can resemble little more than an educated guess. This is where pathology tests come in.
While doctors can rule out certain conditions and hone in on the possibility of others, it is these clinical tests that provide the cornerstone to diagnosis specificity which might just save your life one day. After all, would you put the risk of missing the detection of a potentially serious condition down to a mere guess?
Diagnostic tests (including blood, urine and testing of other tissues and bodily substances) inform approximately 70% of all medical decisions.
Did you know that someone in Australia has a heart attack every ten minutes, and that cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks, is the leading cause of death across the globe? High troponin (a protein in heart muscle released when the muscle is damaged) levels can be an excellent indicator of a heart attack, both impending and past. With heart attack patients, time is crucial for detection, so performing a simple blood test to test troponin levels is vital if a heart attack it suspected.
Another serious condition which often requires a diagnostic test for detection is kidney failure. Urine is analysed for presence of albumin protein, which indicates problems with your kidneys’ filtration of blood.
Feeling lethargic, gaining unexpected weight and feeling unusually cold a lot of the time? There may be something wrong with your thyroid grand, and elevated TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels may point to a condition called hypothyroidism.
Blood tests can be terrifying at worst and uncomfortable at best – but they play an invaluable role in detecting — and sometimes preventing — serious diseases. Many cancers, particularly those affecting the blood, such as leukaemia, can be picked up with through whole blood analysis – particularly white blood cell count. White blood cells carry out your body’s defence against harmful pathogens and foreign invaders, and large numbers of abnormal white blood cells alongside low numbers of normal platelets (and red and white blood cells), can have the doctor’s diagnostic finger pointing to leukaemia.
Even the mere mention of ‘cancer’ can cause shudders to go down our spine as we think of the severity of such a disease, but this is exactly why pathology is so important! The sooner cancers are detected, the more time for treatment and the greater the chance of survival.
Pathology tests may seem like the behind the scenes action when it comes to taking care of your health, but trust us – it’s at the very forefront of both disease protection and prevention.