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Up close: A peek at laboratory analysis

Roy Philpot, chemistry coordinator, pathology, Upstate Cancer Center (photos by William Mueller)

Roy Philpot, chemistry coordinator in the pathology department at the Upstate Cancer Center (photos by William Mueller)


Pneumatic tubes whisk blood samples to the new Core Laboratory on the fifth floor of the Upstate Cancer Center, where two Roche cobas 8000 analyzers stand, whirring quietly. The machines test hundreds of blood samples each day for signs of illness and disorders.

One of the machines that analyzes blood at the Core Laboratory

One of the machines that analyzes blood at the Core Laboratory

Small samples of blood — as little as a single drop — are decanted to small containers called cuvettes and glide automatically to the correct module of the yards-long machines, where an automated arm drops down to add a reagent — a chemical that will coax a test result.

The swiftness of the machines allows caregivers to quickly assess situations. Sped from the operating room to the lab, a sample from a patient undergoing surgery for cancer of the parathyroid can be collected and delivered, and within 20 minutes — while the patient remains on the operating table — the analyzer can show whether all the cancer was successfully removed.

Cancer Care magazine winter 2019 coverHealthLink on Air logoThis article appears in the winter 2019 issue of Cancer Care magazine. Click here for a "HealthLink on Air" podcast/radio interview with pathologist Matthew Elkins, MD, PhD, about the lab and its relocation to the cancer center.