An accurate, timely diagnosis is the first step in every cancer patient’s treatment. Pathologists have traditionally placed diseased tissue on glass slides and examined them under a microscope, but glass slides are difficult for pathologists to share with colleagues and have other problems.
In April 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved digital pathology for use in primary cancer diagnosis. Digital pathology takes tissues mounted on glass slides, scans them bit by bit, and digitally knits the individual pictures together to make one highly detailed image.
This virtual image is paired with associated clinical information to quickly give pathologists an integrated picture of the person’s unique cancer, enabling patients to receive life-saving therapies sooner.
Furthermore, pathologists can perform tests and other diagnostics that are not possible on traditional glass slides, and share the images electronically with experts worldwide.
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) is now implementing a digital pathology service. All new patient pathology slides are being digitized, along with those of the past five years.
In addition, Pelotonia funds are helping to create a digital archive of past pathology specimens, and with their associated clinical data for use by researchers. The specimens and information in the archive will be “de-identified” – that is, no identifying patient information will be included – and then made available to cancer investigators anywhere in the world.
“Thanks to Pelotonia, those specimens will see new life and contribute to the discovery of new biomarkers and new ways to more accurately diagnose cancer,” says Anil Parwani, MD, PhD, director of digital pathology and vice chair and director of Anatomic Pathology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine Department of Pathology.
“Leveraging this type of deidentified big data for research collaboration is critical as we move forward in an era of predictive precision cancer medicine – finding ways to match the right patient with the right drug at the right time is absolutely critical, and this is taking another step toward that goal,” adds Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of the OSUCCC and CEO of The James.
“Cancer pathologic diagnosis is needed at all hours of the day and in every community across the globe,” adds Parwani. “This technology will allow us to take that subspecialized consultation and diagnosis to patients – regardless of where they live.”