American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

The Essential Relationship Between Surgeon and Pathologist

Guests: Terry Sarantou, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist at the Levine Cancer Institute – Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, NC, and Carolyn Compton, MD, PhD, FCAP, an academic pathologist and chief medical and science officer of the National Biomarkers Development Alliance at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

Listen to this episode.

It is rare for a surgical patient to ever meet his or her pathologist. Although interacting with one’s surgeon is commonplace, a patient does not often get to know the medical specialists who work behind the scenes to deliver care. However, the surgeon-pathologist relationship is an incredibly important aspect of the surgical care process.

The findings of the pathologist after an operation confirm that the appropriate course of action was taken, and this clinical information helps the surgeon inform the patient and his or her family about the procedure.

 In this episode of The Recovery Room, host Dr. Rick Greene speaks with two experts about the surgeon-pathologist relationship, each from the respective fields of surgery and pathology: Carolyn Compton, MD, an academic pathologist at Arizona State University, and Terry Sarantou, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist at the Levine Cancer Institute.

“The surgeon cannot be successful without the team approach with their pathologist…The relationship with the pathologist can make the difference in terms of patient outcome,” said Dr. Sarantou.

Dr. Compton agreed, saying, “The team approach is absolutely essential…There are things that only the surgeon knows. There are things that only the pathologist knows. But when you put those two things together, you dramatically increase the accuracy, and consistency of accuracy, in patient care.”

Find out more by listening to this episode of The Recovery Room.


Terry SarantouTerry Sarantou, MD, FACS, is a surgical oncologist at the Levine Cancer Institute – Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, NC. His clinical interests are in breast cancer, melanoma, and endocrine surgery.

Carolyn ComptonCarolyn Compton, MD, PhD, FCAP, is an academic pathologist and chief medical and science officer of the National Biomarkers Development Alliance at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Her research interests are colon cancer, bio-banking, and biomarkers development.