Manju Prasad, MD, MBBS, (a medical degree awarded in several countries outside of the U.S.),a pathologist who specializes in head and neck cancer, learned about this disease when several family members developed this kind of cancer. “My original ideas for joining medicine were very idealistic, and I realized that by studying pathology, I could directly help patients by giving them correct diagnoses and guide their treatment by talking to their surgeons, medical oncologists and internists,” Dr. Prasad says.
“Every day, I look at cancer cells under a microscope in an attempt to provide oncologists with details like whether the cancer is slow- or fast-growing, or what stage has the cancer reached,” Dr. Prasad says. She also regularly assists in cancer-related surgeries by providing rapid intraoperative diagnoses. This type of diagnosis occurs when the surgeon removes a piece of tissue around a patient’s tumor and sends it to the pathologist. The pathologist then examines the sample microscopically using the frozen section diagnostic technique to determine if the cancer has been entirely removed or if the surgeon needs to do more.
At Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Prasad is professor of pathology and director of endocrine, head and neck pathology. She researches specific proteins, or molecules, found in thyroid, salivary and head and neck cancers in order to determine possible new drug therapy targets.