2017 Top Doctor: Jeffrey Henderson, M.D.

Written by Editorial Staff Category: Profiles Issue: April 2017
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Med School/Year Graduated: University of Arizona College of Medicine, 2005
Years in Practice: 7

Pathology is one of our new Top Docs specialties in 2017. Can you give us the elevator pitch about what a pathologist does?
Pathology is probably the largest field of medicine that nobody knows about. There are over 20 subspecialty fields, ranging from transfusion medicine to toxicology to forensics. Generally, pathologists operate behind the scenes helping other physicians make an accurate diagnosis by examining either a patient’s tissue under a microscope or their blood/bodily fluids in an analyzer. Any time your doctor tells you that a specimen is “going to the lab,” it is actually coming to us.

You work at Arizona Digestive Health. What is the most prevalent digestive issue you’ve seen patients for in the last 10 years?
Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. behind lung cancer. Unlike lung cancer, we have very good screening tools for the detection of colon cancer. Patients should get a screening colonoscopy at age 50, and younger than that if colon cancer runs in their family. Our goal is to decrease those numbers through early detection.

What sort of research is being done for patients with Crohn’s Disease or other autoimmune digestive health issues without a known cure?
We treat a large number of patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD). Patients have access to our specialist physicians and our practice dietitian. To my knowledge, we are the only private GI group in Arizona that participates in IBD clinical trials where our patients can be enrolled in some of the most advanced treatment programs available.

Does a patient typically exercise any control over which pathologist is assigned to their case?
In our practice, patients’ biopsies are randomly assigned to the three GI pathologists in our office.  

What is the most popular misconception of your job?
That every pathologist is in forensics and out solving crimes like on CSI. For the most part, pathologists are not as cool as the ones on TV. I wish I was that cool.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Mountain biking, skiing, volunteering with Executive Council Charities, traveling and listening to music.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be...”
A ski bum.