Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dermatopathologist?

A dermatopathologist is a physician who, after completing training in either dermatology or pathology, pursued additional training in accredited programs for the interpretation of skin biopsies. Dermatology is the diagnosis and treatment of skin, hair, and nail disorders. Pathology is the identification of diseases and disorders using a microscope and other tests. Dermatopathology combines these two disciplines.

What does a dermatopathologist do?

A dermatopathologist uses a microscope and sometimes other tests to examine your skin biopsy. The dermatopathologist then combines clinical information (observations your doctor has made about your skin) with microscopic observations of your biopsy to make a diagnosis for your physician.

Is dermatopathology a lab test?

Dermatopathology is a consultative service to a referring dermatologist, not simply a laboratory test. The tests a dermatopathologist uses are his or her tools, but ultimately the decision to make a particular diagnosis for a patient is made based on the dermatopathologist's expertise and training in the interpretation of skin biopsies.

Why is it important to have a skin biopsy examined by a dermatopathologist?

The skills and experience of a dermatopathologist, combined with state-of-the-art tools, are necessary to make an accurate diagnosis your condition. An accurate diagnosis is vital for you to receive the most appropriate and effective therapy.

What kinds of diseases and disorders might a dermatopathologist diagnose?

There are many, many types of diseases that can affect the skin, but among the most common are:
  • skin cancers (melanoma as well as nonmelanoma types, such as basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers)
  • infections
  • immunologic conditions
  • pediatric disorders

How is the Weill Cornell Comprehensive Dermatopathology Service different from other dermatopathology providers?

We provide expert consultation to evaluate tissue samples for all cancerous and noncancerous disorders of the skin. You can feel confident that your doctor sent your sample to a service that is part of a world-class academic medical center: Weill Cornell Medical College.