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Travis Vandergriff, M.D. Answers Questions On Dermatopathology

Travis Vandergriff, M.D. Answers Questions On: Dermatopathology

What does a dermatopathologist do?

Dermatopathology is a small and very specialized field that has one foot in dermatology and one foot in pathology.

Dermatopathologists incorporate what we see under the microscope with patients’ clinical presentation – their symptoms, physical appearance, history, demographics, and other lab work and tests – to identify the exact type of skin disease and zero in on a specific diagnosis.

It’s about turning over every rock, finding every clue, and putting all that information together to make the most accurate diagnosis possible. This is becoming increasingly critical in helping care teams determine which evidence-based treatments are best for which patients.

How does molecular testing help to precisely diagnose and treat skin cancer?

UT Southwestern offers advanced pathology testing that includes molecular tests, which allow us to examine the DNA of skin tumors. This helps us to very precisely diagnose tumors and also to identify which patients are candidates for specific targeted treatments.

Molecular testing can also help us make highly accurate diagnoses because certain types of cancer are known to have particular genetic mutations that we can identify.

When mutations are present, patients are candidates for therapies that specifically target those mutations.