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Diagnosis

 
Diagnosis

Chapter: 4 - Diagnosis

Subchapter: 5 - Lab Tests

Once the biopsy is complete, a specially trained doctor called a pathologist will examine the tissue or fluid samples for abnormal or cancerous cells. Pathology reports can take one or two weeks to complete. The wait can be a real challenge, but being able to make an informed decision regarding your treatment is well worth your time. Remember, the pathology report helps give a full picture of your situation.

A core needle biopsy sample provides information on the tumor type and the tumor’s growth rate, or grade, which we discussed in Subchapter 3.2. If cancer is found, the pathologist will also test the cells for estrogen or progesterone receptors.

When a lumpectomy or wide local surgical biopsy is performed, the results provide information on the type, grade, and receptor status of the tumor. It can also can measure the distance between the surrounding normal tissue and the excised tumor. This distance, called the margin, shows whether the site is clear of cancer cells or not.

A positive margin means cancer cells are present at the margin of the tumor. A negative margin means there are no tumor cells at the margin. A close margin means that the distance between the tumor and normal surrounding tissue is less than about 3mm (.118 inch).

Using the pathology report and any additional scans or blood work, the cancer is classified into stages. Your medical team will use this information to design the best plan for you.

But before we discuss treatment options, in Chapter 6, we will elaborate on the types and stages of cancer.

Related Questions

  • Thumb avatar default

    I am a breast cancer survivor of almost 13yrs I had a lumpectomy. I occasion get very sore and swollen area near the incision site. I keep up with all exams etc. and check my breast often. What's causing this??

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 3 answers
    • Nikol Vega Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Probably scar tissue

      Comment
    • Nikol Vega Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Probably scar tissue

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    My fiancé has been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer based on a 2.2cm tumor. One Dr is advocating chemo first to shrink it other says shrinking makes sense on a larger tumor and is not worth the risks leaving it in longer to shrink from a 2cm to 1cm.

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    over 4 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Kimberly Levesque Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      I had chemo first, my tumor was 5cms, so the original plan was to shrink it and have a lumpectomy...I finished chemo in June and decided to have a bi-lateral masectomy in Aug. I was told that I had a full response to chemo, when they operated they found no cancer, it had done its job!

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I also had the same size tumor and there was no mention of chemo. first to shrink it. It might be because of the location of the tumor? It is hard to say with us not being oncologists or surgeons. The good thing about treatment today is it is so individualized for each patient. There is no...

      more

      I also had the same size tumor and there was no mention of chemo. first to shrink it. It might be because of the location of the tumor? It is hard to say with us not being oncologists or surgeons. The good thing about treatment today is it is so individualized for each patient. There is no shotgun blast types of treatments any more. It gets down to the type, stage, grade, location, size and hormone status of the tumor before a treatment plan is worked out for each patient. Your fiance should probably ask the questions that you're bringing up because they are good ones. It would come into my mind too. Chemotherapy is tough and not only tough on cancer but tough on the human body. As I said, your questions are good ones to be asked of the oncologist. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • alan andalman Profile

    how fast can the results be determined after a lumpectomy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      But the waiting never gets easier. It feels like time stands still.

      Comment
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Agree with Julie -- I had immediate pathology (from the time of surgery), a result from the next day and then extended results from about a week later.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Should I wait until after i get my biopsy results to tell my adult children what is happening?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 4 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • joan jones Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 0 Patient

      I think it is a very individual decision Based on many factors and your individual relationships .
      I have had 2 biopsies and have 2 adult daughters ..

      It was not an easy decision - but it was the right one for our family .
      I told them -
      They both agreed if it came back positive - it would...

      more

      I think it is a very individual decision Based on many factors and your individual relationships .
      I have had 2 biopsies and have 2 adult daughters ..

      It was not an easy decision - but it was the right one for our family .
      I told them -
      They both agreed if it came back positive - it would have been harder to have -not known -" something " was going on ...
      & then to get bad news
      & they both felt it was important to give support during that " waiting" time ....& did not want to be shielded and felt it was a matter of trust and support .
      First biopsy was ok - we celebrated
      Second biopsy this year was positive - and they both said they were glad they knew I had the biopsy and would have been harder if it came " out of the blue"
      They don't like surprises and not being in the loop--but each family and personalities and relationships are different .
      It is a very individual decision !!!
      Good luck - good health and peace in your heart !

      2 comments
    • Nancy Ries Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      My mother passed away 5 days after I "flunked" my second mammogram of the week. My husband, adult daughters, sister and my mother's caregiver knew what was going on. I waited until I had an actual diagnosis after my surgical biopsy to tell others.

      Comment

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