Medical Laboratory Professionals

Medical Laboratory Professionals perform millions of lab tests every day. The information they provide helps to diagnose everything from cancer to COVID-19. Their work is vital to patient care.

Learn more about the profession and hear the stories from medical laboratory professionals themselves on how they played a vital part in providing life-saving patient care.

Stories from the Lab

The work done in the lab is often unseen. But every lab test tells a story of knowledge, understanding and hope. The medical laboratory professionals who perform those lab tests are part of the health care team and part of patient care.

Here are just a few of their stories:


 
 
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MLT

Medical laboratory technologists, or MLTs, analyze samples, such as tissues and body fluids, to provide results for physician diagnosis and treatment. MLTs specialize in several areas:

  • Clinical chemistry, the testing of blood and body fluids to detect chemicals, hormones, or drugs
  • Clinical microbiology, the testing of blood, body fluid and other samples to detect bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites
  • Hematology, the testing of blood to detect blood diseases and disorders
  • Transfusion science, the testing of blood to determine type and compatibility
  • Histology, the preparing of samples of body tissue to detect disease
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CY

Diagnostic Cytology Technologists are health professionals that analyze cellular changes that can determine the presence of specific diseases. Mostly through the use of slides under a microscope, diagnostic cytology technologists are able to detect pre-cancerous cells. An abnormal finding would be sent to a pathologist for a final diagnosis.

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CG

Clinical Genetics Technologists use a variety of instruments to analyze and diagnose changes or abnormalities in chromosomes and DNA, which are unique to every individual. A genetics technologist's analysis of these cells can lead to a diagnosis of genetic diseases.

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MLA

Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs) work under the supervision of a Medical Laboratory Technologist (MLT), performing the practical components of sample analysis. MLAs sort, prepare and sometimes process samples that will be tested and analyzed by an MLT. MLAs often collect samples, such as blood, and are often the laboratory professionals that interact directly with patients.

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Hematology

Leukemia

In 2019, an estimated 6,700 Canadians were diagnosed with leukemia.

Leukemia is a cancer that starts in blood stem cells. Stem cells are basic cells that develop into different types of cells that have different jobs.

Medical laboratory technologists conduct a complete blood count (CBC) on your blood sample, which measures the number and quality of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Leukemia and other conditions can cause abnormal blood cell counts.

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Histology

Cancer

Medical laboratory technologists play a vital role in the diagnosis process. The testing done in the laboratory is key to assisting in early detection and treatment.

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Clinical Genetics

Prenatal Screening

10,000 Canadian women undergo amniocentesis each year.

Amniocentesis (also referred to as amniotic fluid test or AFT) is a test in which fetal DNA is examined for genetic abnormalities.

Laboratory professionals called Genetic Technologists analyze and diagnose abnormalities in chromosomes and DNA, which are unique to every individual. Their analysis can lead to a diagnosis of genetic diseases.

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Transfusion Science

Blood Donations

Every 60 seconds, someone in Canada needs blood.

Blood and blood products are a critical part of everyday medical care including major surgeries, medical procedures, cancer treatments and managing disease.

Medical laboratory assistants often draw blood from patients for clinical or medical testing, transfusions, donations, or research.

Medical laboratory technologists, specifically those in transfusion science, conduct blood typing and blood compatibility tests. This is vital for any blood donation and subsequent transfusions.

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Clinical Genetics

Genetic Testing Surge

There are more than 75,000 genetic testing products on the market today.

Genetic testing has evolved in complexity beyond the single-gene paradigm, the genetic testing market has become similarly complex and dynamic.

These new and abundant genetic tests would be performed by Genetic Technologists, who diagnose abnormalities in chromosomes and DNA which can lead to diagnosing genetic diseases.

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Summary of COVID-19 tests performed across Canada