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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

    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
    almost 6 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
  • Sarah Foster Profile

    My mom is HER2 positive. Is there a test that I can have done to see if I am a carrier?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Mary Foti Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I am sorry about your mom's diagnosis. If you decide to get genetic testing, make sure you see a genetic counselor and/or a geneticist and ask that doctor if you are a candidate for BART testing. The genetic testing process is more complex than most people think. Your geneticist can explain the...

      more

      I am sorry about your mom's diagnosis. If you decide to get genetic testing, make sure you see a genetic counselor and/or a geneticist and ask that doctor if you are a candidate for BART testing. The genetic testing process is more complex than most people think. Your geneticist can explain the different available tests. There is "basic" testing and BART testing. My mother, who has fought breast cancer 3 times, tested BRCA negative after her first diagnosis in 2006 but she in fact really wasn't. (She only had the "basic" test). When I was diagnosed in 2010, I consulted a geneticist with enough brains to order BART genetic testing for me, which confirmed I have a BRCA2 mutation. My mother was re-tested and is also positive. Several cousins were subsequently tested and are also positive. If I hadn't had the BART test, they would not have known. Genetic testing is a scary process but it can give you and your family potentially life-saving information.

      3 comments
    • Becky G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Yes. It's the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic test to see if you carry the breast cancer gene. Having the gene doesn't necessarily mean you will get breast cancer, but it may increase your chances and give you information to take care of yourself and be proactive.
      Here is some information from...

      more

      Yes. It's the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic test to see if you carry the breast cancer gene. Having the gene doesn't necessarily mean you will get breast cancer, but it may increase your chances and give you information to take care of yourself and be proactive.
      Here is some information from www.breastcenter.com on the test:
      In 1994, the first gene associated with breast cancer — BRCA1 (for BReast CAncer1) was identified on chromosome 17. A year later, a second gene associated with breast cancer — BRCA2 — was discovered on chromosome 13. When individuals carry a mutated form of either BRCA1 or BRCA2, they have an increased risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer at some point in their lives. Children of parents with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene mutation.

      Your Mom's doctor would probably be able to refer you to a genetic counselor to have the test done. They do take a sample of your spit instead of a blood test now. It's an easy test to take, but can cost quite a bit (fyi).

      Hope that helps!

      Good luck and all the best to your Mom!!!

      Comment
  • Carrie Drury Profile

    What is a lumpectomy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 1 answer
    • Ana Naluh Andrade Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      A surgery where only the lump and a margin of tissue around it is removed because the doctors don't think is necessary to do a full mastectomy.

      Comment
  • Nicky S Profile

    Does the size of the lump directly correlate to the tumor size or is some of it possible swelling? Just found 3 cm lump 6 days ago. Had mammogram and ultrasound - "suspicious", so biopsy on Tuesday. Trying to stay positive.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      My tumor was 2.2cm. The doctor was measuring the tumor that showed on the ultrasound, unfortunately none was swelling. Keep in mind, LOTS of weird looking things gets biopsied and LOTS of those turn out to be benign. Hang in there, try not to worry. Just keep remembering, a ba-zillion lumps...

      more

      My tumor was 2.2cm. The doctor was measuring the tumor that showed on the ultrasound, unfortunately none was swelling. Keep in mind, LOTS of weird looking things gets biopsied and LOTS of those turn out to be benign. Hang in there, try not to worry. Just keep remembering, a ba-zillion lumps and bumps gets biopsied just to be on the safe side. Take care and God's blessing's. Sharon

      1 comment
    • Judith Eleam Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      My surgeon removed 5cm (at the largest part) of tissue. The tumor was 1.6 cm. Maybe this will help you put your lump in perspective.

      1 comment

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