Pathology lab provides expertise in cancer and other conditions

CPA Lab is the Louisville area’s largest pathology lab, with more than 20 board-certified pathologists assessing skin, tumor, blood and other specimens to help physicians and surgeons offer the best treatment for each patient.

Patients don’t see pathologists, but these physicians can make all the difference when it comes to diagnosing and treating cancer and other conditions, said Alvin W. Martin, M.D., medical director for Norton Healthcare’s CPA Lab.

Dr. Martin recently was named one of Louisville’s top doctors by Louisville magazine.

“[Pathology] is a very fast-evolving field, and we are doing our best to keep up with it,” Dr. Martin said. He has served as medical director since 2009.

CPA Lab has more than 20 board-certified pathologists who assess tissue from all areas of the body to help physicians and surgeons offer the best treatment for each patient.

CPA Lab’s pathologists have received additional training, giving them expertise in such subspecialties as neuropathology (brain tumors), hematology (blood) and cytopathology (cells). These pathologists also have expertise in reading gynecological, gastrointestinal, genitourinary and urological samples.

Part of a Multidisciplinary Approach to Care

CPA Lab also supports Norton Cancer Institute. That means patients not only receive access to coordinated care from an array of highly trained specialists but a quality pathology lab supporting them.

“Norton Healthcare has a broad range of oncologists and clinicians, so there’s a broad range of specimens to identify and classify,” Dr. Martin said. “The level of sophistication we have in pathology services, and the depth of our subspecialty training and number of subspecialties we have, set us apart.”

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CPA Lab pathologists sit on Norton Healthcare’s multidisciplinary tumor board alongside surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists and nurse navigators. The board reviews patients’ conditions and the full team weighs in with their specialty viewpoints to build customized treatment plans.

Advances in cancer treatment have made pathology services more important than ever, according to Dr. Martin.

The pathologists’ findings can determine the type of treatment. For example, breast cancer treatment depends on whether the patient has a BRCA gene mutation. With solid tumors in the lung, bladder or prostate, results also can determine whether immunotherapy is an option.

“Immunotherapy is the biggest advance I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Dr. Martin, 63, who is married and has two grown sons.

From the Farm to the Lab

Dr. Martin grew up on a farm in Verona, Kentucky, which is in Boone County. He went to medical school and did his medical residency at the University of Louisville and then spent two years at Boston University Medical Center as a fellow in hematopathology.

“I love what I do,” Dr. Martin said. “I wake up in the morning and I can’t wait to get to work — and I grew up on a farm, so I get up at 4:30 in the morning.”

Dr. Martin said his mother and grandmother decided he was going to be a doctor, not a farmer.

“I was passionate about biology growing up,” he said. “I feel like I’ve lived the American dream. We were dirt poor. Because of hard work and education, here I am.”

Aside from medicine, Dr. Martin likes to travel. He also took up tennis in his 30s and has become an avid competitor, winning seven state championships.

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