What do hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes, coeliac disease, kidney disease, chronic myelogenous leukaemia, and hypertension have in common?

They’re just a sample of the many health conditions that are often asymptomatic, that is, medical conditions a person can have for a long time without even being aware of it.

In the case of type 2 diabetes, someone can have the condition for seven years without knowing. And that can be a significant problem with it silently impacting their heart health, eyesight, limbs and kidneys.

Similarly, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) can also go undetected for years without any awareness. In fact, by the time you are aware of CKD your kidneys can be badly damaged.

Many Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can be asymptomatic and then go on to cause issues like sterility, eye problems, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

These and many other asymptomatic conditions can only be detected through pathology testing.

But how do you know if you need a pathology test if you aren’t experiencing symptoms?

Every medical condition has its own risk factors that can include lifestyle choices, age, ethnicity or family history. Each person will have different risk factors so finding out about your own family history and talking to a GP about risks for asymptomatic conditions is the best approach.

Why pathology testing counts

The ability to detect a medical condition and to detect it early is vital to better health outcomes.

Pathology testing allows millions of people worldwide to detect medical conditions, which then allows for medical treatment to occur.

And once medical treatment is administered, pathology testing helps to monitor a condition so that doctors can see how it’s responding to treatment.

In terms of health care the benefits are clear. Early detection of conditions leads not only to better health outcomes but often to health cost savings.

For example, the cost of treating diabetes without complications can be less than half the cost of treating diabetes with micro and macro-vascular complications.

Know Pathology, Know Healthcare

Pathology Awareness Australia (PAA) was formed in 2013 to explain the central importance of pathology to the Australian healthcare system and the Australian population more broadly.

For example, 100% of cancers are diagnosed through pathology, an estimated 70% of medical treatment decisions rely on pathology tests, a 1% reduction in a persons HbA1c levels (glycated haemoglobin) can reduce heart attack by 16% and kidney disease by 40%.

Through a combination of traditional media channels and digital campaigns (like this Know Pathology Know Healthcare article), PAA is attempting to bridge the knowledge gap and improve Australian health outcomes. You can help us by sharing our content on social media and making sure you’re receiving our newsletter.

International pathology day

Internationally, pathology plays an integral part in global healthcare systems.

We are privileged in Australia to not only have the highest standard labs in the world, and cutting-edge technology, but 35,000 skilled and dedicated staff helping to provide world-leading medical diagnosis.

On International Pathology Day, we celebrate pathology’s enormous contribution and thank those working in the industry across Australia.

We are joined by others who know the value of pathology including our supporter organisations and Australian politicians who have attended our laboratory tours and events.

To show your support for the work of the pathology sector, make a comment on the Know Pathology Facebook page and post on social media celebrating what pathology means to you using the hashtag #knowpathology and #IPD2018.

Happy International Pathology Day!