Navigating the High Stakes of Diagnosis

Xiaoyin “Sara” Jiang, MD, FCAP, often calls herself a cellular detective, solving the mystery of disease under the microscope. Surgeons send their patients' tissue samples to her for a diagnosis, and she knows that getting the answers right is high stakes—life and death.

Dr. Jiang was medically inclined from a young age. Growing up, she would find injured birds and try to nurse them back to health. “I always liked the idea that you could maybe do something to make people feel better,” Dr. Jiang says.

Now, Dr. Jiang is a pathologist, which is a type of medical doctor that specializes in diagnosis of disease. When a patient needs to have something biopsied the collected sample gets sent to a pathologist for examination. Pathologists are the ones to give a diagnosis of malignant or benign in cases of cancer. As such, they have direct and crucial ties to patient care.

“You never want to give someone bad news, but every physician wants to get the diagnosis right and do the right thing for patients,” Dr. Jiang says.

As a patient, you can always ask to speak with a pathologist to learn more about your diagnosis.