Department of Pathology

Pathology Information for Patients

The pathologists at Brigham and Women's Hospital are international leaders in groundbreaking research across many disease types and collaborate with a wide range of experts across the Harvard community. We are here to support you, whether you are a patient at one of our affiliated hospitals or are seeking a second opinion from us on a pathology-related diagnosis.

Making a diagnosis is not an exact science, and it is highly dependent on the skill and experience of the pathologist. It is not unusual for pathologists to consult with one another in difficult cases. Making the correct diagnosis is critical to the treatment decisions that you and your doctor will make, especially if the diagnosis involves some kind of cancer.

You have the right to request that your doctor seek another opinion regarding a pathology diagnosis. Your doctor will make the arrangements with the pathologists to have your diagnosis reviewed by another pathologist. A pathologist will be selected based on his/her reputation and expertise in your disease. It is important to discuss with your insurance provider whether you will have to pay some or all of the cost of the second opinion.

If you are traveling to another hospital for consultation or for treatment, you should ask whether your diagnosis will be reviewed at that hospital, and whether your doctor will arrange to have your pathology materials sent there. It would be most useful to have this done before your visit so that the consulting doctor will have all of the information he/she needs when you arrive. At times, you will be asked to bring the materials yourself. This should not be a problem, as the glass slides usually can be carried in a small box and should include the pathologist's report.

If you are seeking treatment or a second opinion elsewhere, our department will mail your diagnostic materials (reports, glass slides, blocks) to the location specified by your referring clinician at his/her request.

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