Histopathology is the diagnosis and the study of disease by an expert medical interpretation of cells and tissue samples. What this type of speciality determines is the cause of death by performing autopsies and it is an integral part to cancer management through staging and grading tumours.
Because of the fact that histopathology deals with the tissue diagnosis of disease, a tissue diagnosis can be made on the basis of biopsy material taken either from the patient in the ward or the operating theatre, or autopsy material.
There are four groups that can fall within histology. Firstly there are medically qualified histopathologists who carry out the microscopical examination and the diagnosis of the tissue samples. The second group are biomedical scientists, they carry out the scientific processes of techniques in order to produce the material that the histopathologist examines when making the diagnosis.
The third group are associate practitioners and medical laboratory assistants, they provide a variety of support activities both to the histopathologists and biomedical scientists and there are also some cases where they perform advanced roles in some areas which is traditionally covered by biomedical scientists.
Lastly, the fourth group are mortuary or anatomical pathology technicians, they are responsible for providing support to histopathologists during post mortems and they organise the mortuary service.
Histopathology is the branch of pathology, together with cytology, histology forms the pathology discipline of cellular pathology. Histopathologists need to have a broad-based knowledge and understanding of the pathological and clinical aspects of disease.