Patient Education

Resources you can share with your patients

As a leader in anatomic pathology services, we’ve gathered resources clinicians can use to help patients understand their diagnosis. Share our downloadable PDFs with your patients to help them learn about diseases and conditions our subspecialty pathologists test for in breast pathology, dermatology, gastroenterology, hematology, and urology.

In addition, we realize this may be the first time a patient has received a diagnosis from a pathologist. We’ve included an introduction to pathology, our organization, and how we help ensure patients get the right diagnosis the first time.

About Us

Why providers choose Inform Diagnostics

Inform Diagnostics is a leader in anatomic pathology services. We help physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners by providing timely, definitive results for their patients.

  • Many of our pathologists have academic experience, having held or currently holding faculty positions at some of the world’s leading institutions.
  • Our pathologists see more specimens on average than at other laboratories, giving them valuable experience and expertise.
  • We hold daily consensus conferences at large multi-headed microscopes to review difficult cases to ensure those cases get definitive diagnoses.
  • We have stringent laboratory quality-control processes that include video recording of each package opening and point-to-point tracking at each step of the process.
  • When patients are referred to academic medical centers, those centers overwhelmingly confirm the Inform Diagnostics diagnosis.

Educational Resources

Helping patients learn about their diagnoses

The following information sheets provide helpful information about conditions, tests, and procedures. This information is designed to help patients learn more about the issues they’re facing. Of course, these materials are not meant to replace the care and expertise that comes from face-to-face consultations with healthcare providers.

Inform Diagnostics clients can request the information sheets in this section from Client Services—please contact us.

Gastroenterology Resources

Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a recently identified disease that is increasing in frequency in both adults and children. It is an allergic disease of the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. The allergic reaction causes build-up of eosinophils in the lining of the esophagus. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that play an important role in the immune system. However, they may cause considerable damage when they enter a tissue in large numbers. EoE is the disease that results from the prolonged accumulation of eosinophils in the lining of the esophagus.

Diverticular Disease

Diverticular disease affects the colon. The colon is part of the large intestine that removes waste from your body. Diverticular disease is made up of two conditions: diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Diverticulosis occurs when pouches, called diverticula, form in the colon. These pouches bulge out like weak spots in a tire. Diverticulitis occurs if the pouches become inflamed.

Ulcerative Colitis

Your diagnosis of ulcerative colitis (UC) is uniquely your “own,” but you are not alone. Experts estimate that 700,000 people in the United States may have this condition – affecting both men and women equally – with many diagnosed in their teens and early 20s. The condition is unique, both in symptoms and treatment response, for each person. A therapy that works for one individual may not be right for your specific needs.

Although scientists do not know the exact cause of ulcerative colitis, this condition is categorized as a type of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Chronic disease just means that there is no cure, and that symptoms may come and go, and flare up for reasons not clearly understood. However, UC has different characteristics than other IBDs, such as Crohn’s disease.

Colon Polyps

A polyp in the colon can be defined as any extra tissue that protrudes into the inside (or lumen) of the large intestine (colon), but typically is due to excess of the lining (epithelium). They vary in size from microscopic to several inches in diameter.

Typically there are no symptoms unless the polyps are large. However, patients may experience blood in the stool, constipation or diarrhea.

The greatest risk is that some types (primarily adenomas) may become cancerous. As adenomas grow in size, the chance of the growth eventually making a malignant transformation gets higher.

Sprue/Celiac Disease

It might seem incredible, but your diagnosis of Celiac disease is good news! Because now, your doctor has conclusively found the source of your symptoms, which were probably troubling you for a long time. And, once you start on a gluten-free diet, you will begin to see fewer symptoms and feel much better!

Celiac disease? Never heard of it!

That’s because it is less talked about than diabetes or heart disease, for example. However, most people experience uncomfortable stomach and intestinal symptoms for years until they are properly diagnosed! Celiac specialists estimate 3 million Americans are affected but that more than 85% of people with the problem are undiagnosed, or improperly diagnosed with another condition. But Celiac disease is not new.

Acid Reflux

The esophagus is a tube about ten inches long that begins at the back of your throat. At the end, the place where it connects with your stomach, there is an anatomical area called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES opens to allow food to pass through to be digested, and it also then closes to prevent the stomach acids from entering the esophagus.

When the LES fails to work properly, acid from the stomach can reflux, which means, it “flows back,” and then up into the esophagus. This causes that burning sensation you may feel in your chest called “heartburn.”

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine. The procedure enables the physician to see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.

Constipation

Constipation means that a person has three bowel movements or fewer in a week. The stool is hard and dry. Sometimes it is painful to pass. You may feel “draggy” and full. Some people think they should have a bowel movement every day. That is not really true. There is no “right” number of bowel movements. Each person’s body finds its own normal number of bowel movements. It depends on the food you eat, how much you exercise, and other things. At one time or another, almost everyone gets constipated. In most cases, it lasts for a short time and is not serious. When you understand what causes constipation, you can take steps to prevent it.

GERD

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a common condition involving the esophagus (the muscular tube that connects the back of the mouth to the stomach) that can occur at any age, but typically begins to appear around age 40. Many people refer to this disorder as heartburn or indigestion. GERD is caused when the muscular valve at the lower end of the esophagus relaxes, allowing the contents of the stomach to backwash, or reflux, into the esophagus. These gastric contents contain strong acids and bile that are very irritating to the lining of the esophagus.

Hemorrhoids

The term hemorrhoids refers to a condition in which the veins around the anus or lower rectum are swollen and inflamed. Hemorrhoids may result from straining to move stool.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional disorder of the digestive system; that is, it is an abnormality in the way the gut normally functions, but does not have a known specific structural or biochemical alteration. It is sometimes referred to as spastic colon, mucous colitis, spastic colitis, nervous stomach, or irritable colon. Approximately 10-15% of Americans suffer with this disorder, and it is the most common diagnosis made by gastroenterologists. Patients experience a variety of symptoms, particularly abdominal discomfort and a modification of bowel habits. Some people experience constipation, others experience diarrhea, still others experience alternating constipation and diarrhea. Other symptoms include abdominal pain or cramping, a bloated feeling, gas (flatulence), and mucus in the stool.

Upper Endoscopy

Upper endoscopy enables the physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain, or chest pain. Upper endoscopy is also called EGD, which stands for esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

Helicobacter Pylori

The tests your doctor recently performed have found a bacterial infection in your stomach called Helicobacter pylori. This spiral-shaped bacteria, which causes most ulcers, lives in the lining of the stomach and goes undetected – often for many years – before being discovered.

Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s Esophagus (BE) is an esophageal disease that can occur in people who have a history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Over time, the corrosive stomach acid from GERD causes damage to the esophagus. If acid reflux is not controlled, the surface and deeper layers of esophageal tissue are affected.

Microscopic Collagenous Colitis

Your recent test results have identified a unique type of intestinal inflammation called Microscopic Colitis (MC), specifically, collagenous colitis. The term “colitis” simply means inflammation of the colon. The good news is that treatments and changes in food can very often give people fast relief from abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea and other symptoms of collagenous colitis.

Microscopic Lymphocytic Colitis

Your recent test results have identified a unique type of intestinal inflammation called Microscopic Colitis (MC), specifically, lymphocytic colitis. The term “colitis” simply means inflammation of the colon. The good news is that treatments and changes in food can very often give people fast relief from abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea and other symptoms of lymphocytic colitis.

Crohn’s Disease

What is Crohn’s Disease? Crohn’s is an intestinal disorder that falls under the category of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and includes a number of diseases affecting the digestive tract. This condition, first identified in 1932 and named after Dr. Burrill B. Crohn, is most associated with intestinal irritation that starts at the end of the small bowel called the ileum, and continues through the colon. Abdominal pain and cramping, constipation, and/or diarrhea are the widespread symptoms.

Colorectal Cancer

In 2011, nearly 50,000 Americans will die from colorectal cancer. This disease, which usually originates in polyps found in the colon (large intestine) or rectum, is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could have been prevented through routine screenings after age 50. These preventative screenings are also therapeutically beneficial to patients, as they can detect polyps, which can then be removed during the procedure before they become cancerous.

Several different types of screening tests are currently used to find polyps and/or colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor to determine which test is best for you.

Early detection is key in the fight against colorectal cancer – when a case is identified and treated early on, CDC data has shown that the five-year relative survival rate is 90 percent. A number of research institutions and healthcare companies are working to improve the diagnostic process for colorectal cancer by examining ways to make screening less invasive, while maintaining accuracy.

Dermatology Resources

Alopecia

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. It refers to any type of hair loss, thinning hair, or baldness in any region of the body. However, it more commonly affects the scalp. Alopecia can be temporary, slowly progressive, or be permanent (with scarring).

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a chronic skin disorder characterized by severe itching. “Atopic” refers to a tendency to develop allergies, such as hayfever and asthma. “Dermatitis” means inflammation of the skin. Most commonly, AD consists of dry, red, itchy skin on the face, inside of the elbows and behind the knees, but it can occur on other body sites. Scratching causes worsening of symptoms and may lead to crusted, weepy lesions which have become infected. Symptoms tend to come and go over a patient’s lifetime but may resolve completely with time.

AD most commonly occurs in infants and young children, but may occasionally be seen in adults. City living and dry climates may increase likelihood of AD. As children age, AD may improve or even resolve; however patients with a history of AD may always have “sensitive” skin.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder affecting one percent of the U.S. population and is characterized by red, scaly sores. In patients with psoriasis, the surface skin cells (epithelial cells) grow at an increased rate, causing skin cells to pile up on the surface of the skin. The sores (or lesions) vary in size and are often thick and red with silvery scales. Occasionally, lesions of psoriasis can itch or be tender. They are commonly found on elbows, knees and lower back, but can also affect other body sites, such as scalp, palms, soles and nails. Rarely, the entire body can be involved. Psoriasis may also affect joints, causing arthritis.

Warts

Warts are skin growths that have been recognized in humans for thousands of years. However, because warts appear suddenly, and very often disappear with no treatment – particularly in children – their origin and wildly bizarre remedies have been the subject of folklore and controversy for centuries. Not until the late 1940s did scientists learn that warts are actually caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Currently more than 100 different strains of HPV cause warts, including the common wart, those are the ones that appear on the fingers; flat warts that appear on places frequently shaved, and plantar warts which appear on the soles of feet. While most warts are a benign, unsightly nuisance, some HPV strains cause genital warts, which are a serious health risk that can lead to cancer.

Tinea

Your recent biopsy examined by a dermatopathologist may have been diagnosed as a fungal infection. Some fungi are harmless – like certain mushrooms that are edible – but some fungal species can cause severe, even life-threatening conditions. Certain fungal species called dermatophytes can cause infections on the surface of the skin, but these infections are rarely severe, and generally treated successfully.

Tinea is the medical name of the fungal infection that may affect the nails, scalp, feet, groin and body surface skin. While each of these body areas can be affected, the name of the infection is unique and corresponds to the specific body area. These fungi thrive in warm, moist and humid places, in the environment and on people and animals.

Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratoses are a common type of skin growth, especially in people over 40 years old. They are completely harmless, but need to be checked by a dermatologist so they can be distinguished from skin cancer, especially melanoma.

A seborrheic keratosis is a very common and harmless type of raised skin growth. It arises first in adult life, because of excessive growth of the top layer of skin cells. It is typically pigmented, appearing as a brown, black, or pale tan growth, and is often found on the face, shoulders, chest, or back. While it can occur as a single growth, multiple growths (seborrheic keratoses) are usually present at any one time.

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is very common; scientists estimate about 58 million Americans have actinic keratosis. The word actinic describes any type of light that can cause a chemical reaction to occur. The most common “actinic light” however, is sunlight. The chemical reaction caused by sunlight includes photosynthesis in plants, but the ultraviolet light (the one we can’t see), also causes a reaction in the epidermis to produce tanning and other skin changes. The word keratosis describes an abnormal growth of the epidermis. Keratin, a protein found in our skin, hair and nails is part of the epidermis. Therefore, actinic keratosis means there is a sunlight-induced change in your skin.

Fungal Infections

Your doctor has confirmed that your skin symptoms are due to a fungal infection. There are several different types of fungi that cause fungal infections in the skin and nails. The type of infection you have is based on where it is located on your body.

Melanoma

Your test results confirm a diagnosis of melanoma. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. Cancer can be a scary word and it is okay to feel confused or angry. It is important to remember that no two patient experiences are identical. Your experience will depend on the specific type of melanoma that you have, as well as the type of treatments you receive.

Benign Nevi

Your recent skin biopsy examined by pathologists has been identified as Benign Nevi. A nevus, (pronounced nee-vus) is a pigmented area of skin commonly called a mole. Nevi (nee-vye) is the plural form for one or more of these areas of skin, commonly referred to as moles. Since nevi can have specific pre-cancerous characteristics, your doctor wanted to have your moles examined by a pathologist using microscopic analysis. The diagnosis of benign nevi means your moles are simply pigmented skin growths that show no current signs of abnormality, or pathology, typical of skin cancer.

Dysplastic Nevi

The word “nevus” (pronounced nee-vus), is medically defined as a pigmented area of skin, a mole, or a birthmark. Nevi is the plural form for more than one of these areas of skin. The term dysplastic is the adjective for dysplasia, which means an abnormal growth of cells. Your tissue sample recently examined by pathologists has been diagnosed as “Dysplastic nevi,” which literally means, “an abnormal growth pattern of a mole (or moles) or pigmented skin area.”

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Your skin biopsy recently examined by a pathologist has been diagnosed as a basal cell carcinoma. These skin cancers are the most common type of skin cancer; in fact, they rank as the most common type of cancer in humans. Basal cell carcinomas typically grow slowly, rarely spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body, and they are usually cured when treated early.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Your dermatology biopsy that was recently examined by a pathologist has been diagnosed as a squamous cell carcinoma, a non-melanoma type of cancer.

Urology Resources

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men, aside from skin cancer, and is typically slow growing. And although a diagnosis of prostate cancer is worrying, the chance of recovery is high, especially with early diagnosis and treatment.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer refers to cancers that form in the bladder, which is the organ that stores urine. Similar types of cancer also can occur in remaining parts of the urinary tract system that transports urine. The majority of bladder tumors are low grade, which means that they do not invade into the wall of the bladder.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers in men in the United States, with approximately 8,000 new cases diagnosed each year. However, although it is an uncommon type of cancer overall, it is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer in men between the ages of 20 and 35 years old.

Penile Cancer

Penile cancer is a very rare form of cancer and is only diagnosed in about 1 in every 100,000 men in the United States. It tends to be slow growing, so with early detection, the chances of complete recovery are excellent.

High-Grade PIN

Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) is the medical term for a condition in which abnormal changes are seen in cells (the epithelial cells) of the prostate gland when a pathologist looks at a prostate biopsy sample under the microscope. However, this is not a diagnosis of cancer. In PIN, the cells of the prostate gland look abnormal, and have similarities with cancer cells, but they have not yet turned into cancer.