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  • Department of Pathology

    Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Care

    The Department of Pathology provides high-quality diagnostic services for a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions. Many of our staff conduct research related to cancer, and are involved in teaching the next generation of doctors the skills they will need to understand the subtleties of the disease and to treat patients.

    About the Department

    The Department of Pathology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Care Center provides high-quality diagnostic services. Our physicians and staff provide an accurate and complete diagnosis so you receive the most specific and appropriate treatment.

    Our team of physicians, technologists, and support staff is well-versed in the most up-to-date techniques for analyzing your biopsy, Pap smear, aspiration cytology, or any specimen sent to the hospital laboratory.

    Many of our staff conduct basic and applied research related to cancer, and are actively involved in teaching the next generation of doctors the skills they will need to understand the subtleties of the disease and to treat patients.

    The role of the pathologist

    A pathologist is involved in your medical care any time a specimen is submitted to the clinical laboratory for tests, or a tissue specimen is taken by biopsy or needle aspiration for tissue or cell diagnosis.

    Pathologists are responsible for ensuring the quality of the testing, interpreting the tests, and advising your doctor about ordering and analyzing tests. For example, a routine blood test may show abnormal cells; a pathologist examines these cells to determine their true nature.

    If you are having a surgical procedure, your surgeon may rely on the skills of a pathologist to provide a rapid diagnosis during surgery. For example, a pathologist can help determine if a nodule in the lung is due to an infection instead of cancer, in which case removal of lung tissue may not be necessary.

    Your surgeon or internist may request a diagnosis for a sample taken by biopsy during your office or clinic visit. For example, your dermatologist may take a skin biopsy because a mole has changed size or shape. One of our pathologists specializing in skin diseases will examine the biopsy and report back to the dermatologist, who will use the information to guide treatment.

    A cytopathologist, who has specialized knowledge of normal and abnormal characteristics of cells, may be called on to perform a needle biopsy. In a breast biopsy, this would involve placing a needle in a breast lump to extract cells into a syringe for further testing.

    Our Services

    General Surgical Pathology and Specialties

    This department diagnoses tissue for a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions. Staff members have extensive experience in such specialized areas as dermatopathology, hematopathology, oncologic, gastrointestinal, soft tissue tumor, breast, male genitourinary, cardiovascular, renal, pulmonary, rheumatologic, and infectious disease pathology. Special services are also provided in electron microscopy and immunopathology.


    The laboratory performs conventional chromosome analysis and molecular cytogenetic studies, including fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Tests are routinely performed on cells prepared from peripheral blood, tissue, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and solid tumors.

    Diagnostic Molecular Biology-Molecular Oncology

    This department analyzes nucleic acids for diagnostic purposes, including tests for antigen receptor gene rearrangements found in lymphoma and leukemia cases, viral DNA, chromosomal translocations, and various inherited diseases. Techniques such as Southern blotting, polymerase chain reaction amplification, and in-situ hybridization are used.

    Women's and Perinatal Pathology

    Women's and Perinatal Pathology performs tissue diagnosis from gynecological and obstetrical surgeries and other procedures related to high-risk pregnancy and disorders diagnosed prenatally. Specialists offer expert consultative services relative to rare disorders of the human female reproductive organs, fetus and placenta.

    Contact Us

    In general, your clinical care team will help you arrange tests and explain the results to you.

    However, if you need to reach the Pathology Department directly, you can call or send a fax.

    Department of Pathology

    Brigham and Women's Hospital
    75 Francis Street
    Boston, MA 02115

    Phone: 617-732-7510
    Fax: 617-732-7513 

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  • Make an Appointment

    • For adults:
      877-442-3324 (877-442-DFCI)

    • Quick access:
      Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

    • For children:
      888-733-4662 (888-PEDI-ONC)

    • Make Appointment Online