Head and Neck Pathology

The Head and Neck Pathology Laboratory at Hopkins is a leading center for the study of tumors of the head and neck, including tumors of the thyroid, salivary glands, and the upper respiratory tract. We consult with other pathologists and physicians around the country seeking expert diagnosis and second opinions on these cancers. We also take part in several national clinical trials investigating the use of molecular screening to detect head and neck cancers.

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Dr. William Westra established the Head and Neck Pathology Laboratory in 1995, when he joined the Division of Cardiorespiratory Pathology to take part in clinical studies using molecular biology to detect and diagnose head and neck cancers. Work in this promising area is currently being tested in several multi-institutional clinical trials. He also initiated the laboratory's diagnostic service. Dr. Justin Bishop joined the Head and Neck Pathology Laboratory in 2010 as its Associate Director.

Dr. Westra is co-author of Surgical Pathology Dissection, which covers current methods and techniques for the assessment of complex head and neck resections.


Expert Consultation
Dr. Westra is the laboratory's primary consultant. In addition to his expertise in tumors of the upper respiratory tract, he is also interested in thyroid pathology. Dr. Bishop is the second consultant of the division. Other members of the diagnostic team include specialists in bone pathology as well as otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists and molecular geneticists.

Special capabilities and services
To aid in the diagnosis and classification of head and neck tumors, we can perform an extensive panel of immunohistological stains, and in-situ hybridization for Epstein Barr Virus and various Human Papilloma Viruses.

Timely Results

We will fax a written report within three days after we receive your slides and surgical pathology report. Dr. Westra is also available for phone consultations from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. E.S.T. at 410-614-3964.


Standard Specimen Processing
The laboratory provides expert evaluation of head and neck pathology specimens, using light microscopy with immunohistochemistry and/or electron microscopy as appropriate for each case. Studies can be done on tissue or on blocks of slides prepared elsewhere.

IMPORTANT NOTE - Unstained Slides Requirement
Note that all tissue (unstained slides) must be submitted on a plus charged slide. The Immunopathology Laboratory recommends a white plus charged slide that is available from Cardinal Health. The catalogue number for the white plus slide is M6159-6, however one must specify to the vendor whether to order as one gross (pack of 144 slides), one case (10 packs per case).

Light microscopy (LM)
In-situ hybridization --for Epstein Barr Virus and type-specific Human Papilloma Virus.

Interpretations of head and neck pathology specimens (including specimens of the thyroid, parathyroids, salivary glands, maxillofacial region, and upper respiratory tract) are provided by specialists.