Less than 40% of people in the UK understand the pathologist’s vital role in diagnosing cancer

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August 29, 2014

On the eve of the European Congress of Pathology in London, new research shows the pathologist’s critical role in tackling cancer is not widely understood.

Chalfont St Giles, 29 August 2014 – As the European Congress of Pathology begins this weekend in London, new research from GE Healthcare shows that many people do not understand the importance of the pathologist in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer1, the most common cancer in Europe, with more than 464,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012.2

Pathologists are vital to the diagnosis and clinical management of disease and are involved in 100% of all cancer diagnoses and in most patient care pathways. Of the 39% of people in the UK who did know pathologists play a role in diagnosing the disease, only just over half knew that pathologists also play a part in the ongoing treatment of a patient.

GE Healthcare’s Sara Dalmasso who leads their Digital Pathology business in Europe said: “We know the role of the pathologist is not well understood and these results support that. This lack of understanding may be one reason why there has been little investment so far in empowering pathologists who examine tissue samples with new tools and ways of working.

“Today, tissue slides have to be physically taken to the pathologist, or the pathologist has to travel to view them under a traditional microscope. This can result in delays, risks slides being lost or damaged and makes collaboration difficult. We’re working with pathologists to help improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis using our Omnyx digital pathology solution. And investing in technology is clearly good news for patients - quicker diagnosis, less time anxiously waiting for results and easy access to the opinion of specialists.”

Dr Suzy Lishman, Vice President and President Elect at the Royal College of Pathologists, said: “We are not surprised by these findings. We know many people understand little about the role the pathologist plays in their diagnosis and treatment. The Royal College of Pathologists runs programmes to raise awareness of the speciality including National Pathology Week, which will be held in November this year, so that patients can understand who is involved in their care and treatment.

“The College also recognises the benefits that investing in technology like digital pathology can have for patient care. Examples include pathologists being able to seek a swift second opinion from colleagues based anywhere in the world as well helping in the provision of out of hours services and opportunities for use in training. However, it remains essential that digital pathology services are standardised, are subject to quality controls and clinical audit, to ensure they help deliver the best care for patients.”

The GE research results showed that less than 50% of people surveyed in the US understood the pathologist role in diagnosing breast cancer compared to 78% of respondents in Russia and less than 20% of respondents in Japan and Korea1.

Notes to Editors

  1. GE Healthcare research 2014

2. Cancer Research UK


Omnyx is a trademark of Omnyx, LLC

About GE Healthcare

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world. GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter - great people and technologies taking on tough challenges. From medical imaging, software & IT, patient monitoring and diagnostics to drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and performance improvement solutions, GE Healthcare helps medical professionals deliver great healthcare to their patients.

For our latest news, please visit http://newsroom.gehealthcare.com

Tackling Cancer

At GE, we envision a day when cancer is no longer a deadly disease. In September 2011, GE Healthcare launched an ambitious global campaign against cancer, committing $1 billion of its total R&D budget over the next five years to expand its advanced cancer diagnostic and molecular imaging capabilities, as well as its world-class technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and for cancer research. By the end of 2013, $526M had been invested, setting GE on track to meet its five-year commitment. To accelerate progress, and to deliver better care to 10 million patients by 2020, the campaign against cancer combines the strength of GE’s portfolio of cancer technologies with the innovations born from collaborations with key partners. These commitments position GE to drive game-changing impact in oncology and a leap forward for individualized cancer care.

About Omnyx

Omnyx, LLC is a joint venture of GE Healthcare and UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) with locations in Pittsburgh, PA and Piscataway, NJ. The company has developed the OmnyxTM Integrated Digital Pathology solution allowing pathology departments worldwide to move to an all-digital workflow. Their products include image acquisition devices, workflow software, companion algorithms, and transformation consulting. Close collaboration with pathologists at UPMC and other institutions along with their relationship with GE Healthcare allows Omnyx to focus its innovation on the needs of anatomic pathologists worldwide. OmnyxTM products are for in vitro diagnostic use for specific clinical applications, and are intended for research use only on other applications. For more information, go to: www.omnyx.com

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