Small pieces of equipment are helping to make a life-saving diagnosis

A close up of the microscope at the Nottingham Breast Insitute

For those who are waiting for results from a breast cancer check, time might seem to stand still. But behind the scenes, the team at Histopathology are working hard to ensure an accurate diagnosis, and determine the best type of treatment for each individual.

With technological advancements happening every day, small but specialist microscopes are leading the way for patients in Nottingham. The microscopic precision unveils crucial information about a patient's tumour and the stage of illness, which helps clinicians guide each patient’s treatment.

As part of our support for the Nottingham Breast Institute, and the breast cancer research taking place there, we have helped fund some brand new, state-of-the-art microscopes that help pathologists make a cancer diagnosis.

The specialist microscope at the Nottingham Breast Institute

What is the process?

When a patient comes in with the concern of breast cancer, they undergo a scan as well as a biopsy of the lump, which is then sent through to the Histopathology unit for further investigation. Once received, they take the sample and take a smaller sample, which is then looked at under the microscopes. This shows the pathologist whether the tumour is benign or malignant, and what stage the cancer is. They then provide a report to the consultant, who discusses the results and the treatment options with their patient.

Andrea Gooding, Cellular Pathology Service Manager applied for the grant from Nottingham Hospitals Charity for this project. She spoke about the importance of these new microscopes:

“Histology is the study of the microscopic structure of tissues. The microscope is an essential tool for observing and analysing tissue samples at high magnification and resolution. The compound light microscope, funded by the Charity, makes use of many lenses to achieve high magnification, typically up to 1,000 times, enabling Pathologists and Scientists to examine thin tissue sections on glass slides that have been stained. Our Pathologists then interpret tissue structures and cells to provide a diagnosis.

“As digital technology advances and we embrace the use of scanning equipment where entire glass slides are scanned and digitised ready for viewing on a computer, the use of microscopes may reduce. However, they will never totally disappear from our reporting offices or laboratory environments as not every sample can be scanned. So our trusted microscopes will remain a part of the tool set required to provide patients with their diagnoses, and with thanks to Nottingham Hospitals Charity, we can ensure that patients that are being treated by the Breast Institute get the best, most accurate diagnosis.”

Projects like this can make a real difference to patients awaiting a diagnosis and we couldn’t do this without your generous donations. To continue to support important and impactful projects like this one, please donate today.

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