Botsford Hospital patients have an extra line of defense in getting an accurate diagnosis for their skin conditions. Now their skin biopsies can be evaluated by the new associate chair of pathology, John Pui, M.D.
Dr. Pui, who joined the Botsford medical staff full time this year as a general pathologist, also has a background in clinical dermatology and dermatopathology. A dermatopathologist is a physician who has been specially trained to interpret skin biopsies, which gives Dr. Pui an edge in diagnosing skin cancer, eczema, dermatitis and other skin conditions.
“There are many things that are routine to me that would be very difficult for someone who doesn’t have special training in skin pathology,” Dr. Pui says.
Dr. Pui recalls one patient who was admitted to Botsford with an unusual rash. “She had seen many dermatologists before coming to Botsford, and they weren’t able to come up with an answer,” he says. Dr. Pui recognized signs of a glucagonoma, a pancreatic tumor that sometimes causes a skin rash. His diagnosis of the rare tumor was the key to getting the patient started on the road to treatment and recovery. “When I can come up with the answer and no one else can, I feel like I make a difference here,” Dr. Pui says.
A dermatopathologist can also make a difference in spotting skin cancer early. Patients who have skin biopsies performed by their dermatologists, internists, primary care physicians or OB/GYNs can feel confident that they're getting a timely and accurate diagnosis. “When you send a biopsy away for analysis, it’s nice to know that the person on the other side has special expertise,” Dr. Pui says.
There are things you can do to reduce your skin cancer risk. When you head outdoors this summer, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect against UVB and UVA rays. Avoid the sun’s peak hours (from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Remember to perform a monthly skin self-exam and watch for suspicious moles. If you find a mole that looks worrisome, contact your physician. Regardless, you should schedule an annual skin exam with a physician to check your moles.