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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

    How come when I was diagnosed my Dr. couldn't tell the stage of cancer and said only after surgery I would know, but a friend has just been diagnosed today with no surgery just a biopsy at Stage 2?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Morning A' It all depends on how much tissue was Removed during the biopsy. The type of biopsy done. And the other factor being the surgeon wants to have a complete pathology final report before giving you your staging diagnosis. The doctor I worked for was very thorough and had the tissue...

      more

      Morning A' It all depends on how much tissue was Removed during the biopsy. The type of biopsy done. And the other factor being the surgeon wants to have a complete pathology final report before giving you your staging diagnosis. The doctor I worked for was very thorough and had the tissue evaluated by two pathologist before giving a patient a cancer staging diagnosis. She felt it was devastating enough for the patent to hear they had cancer and wanted to be as accurate as possible with treatment options after surgery

      Comment
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Morning A,

      Comment
  • Ginger Robbins Profile

    Having a lumpectomy in a few weeks and lump is deep and close to the breast bone. Anyone gone thru this and is the recovery painful? I am a little worried because it is so deep and on the breast bone.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 3 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Is it a lump on the breast bone or a lump in the breast that appears to be on the breastbone? I had a mastectomy and don't recall my breast bone being a problem.

      Comment
    • Trisha Muller Quinn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2014

      Ginger. I first had a lumpectomy but found the tumour was 8 cms long and quite deep ..with no clear margins
      So I then went back about 1 month later and had a double mastectomy ..

      My Lumpectomy .. in the end was a long fine scar .. my breast was smaller and a bit odd shape compared to the...

      more

      Ginger. I first had a lumpectomy but found the tumour was 8 cms long and quite deep ..with no clear margins
      So I then went back about 1 month later and had a double mastectomy ..

      My Lumpectomy .. in the end was a long fine scar .. my breast was smaller and a bit odd shape compared to the other .....it just looked very bruised and it must have had inside stitches and outside was taped ......but I had very large breasts so maybe why I didn't notice any pain and then after the surgery I wore a soft bra for support ..

      So now after all have settled down , ( years after my double mastectomy) ... I have a big " dent " just under my armpit towards my chest .. ( Stage 3 b)! I know it may not be the same as yours ....
      But
      I had no issue with pain ..
      just remember to have some Lessons from physio how to move your arm ..To help prevent cording. !! Which is when some of your muscles after the cut some muscle contract and you use full movement ..
      Since I had a double I needed physio / OT in both arms ..

      Everyone's cancer is different. But the feeling are mostly the same ... I want it out now !! And I don't really care how I look or if I end up having no breast / s !! As long as I beat the cancer ......And we do win and live a long happy full life ...
      So good luck 🎀🎀

      1 comment
  • Karen Milburn Profile

    What test results or information did you use to decide to do a lumpectomy or mastectomy or double mastectomy if only 1 breast had an issue?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    about 6 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Mimi Carroll Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      My thinking... Breast are part of your body and function in ways that we fully don't understand to keep us healthy. I never felt my breast was trying to kill me- the cancer was the problem not my breast. So keeping them was body heathy, I couldn't get out of any treatment by having mastectomy, ...

      more

      My thinking... Breast are part of your body and function in ways that we fully don't understand to keep us healthy. I never felt my breast was trying to kill me- the cancer was the problem not my breast. So keeping them was body heathy, I couldn't get out of any treatment by having mastectomy, statistics are same for recurrence , if recurrence happened in breast I had more tissue to spare, and I like my breasts. I needed two surgeries to get margin... Lumpectomy was much easier surgery, I Had no problems healing and got to chemo quickly. It was great for me, yet each women has to choose what is right for them.

      Comment
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      1. Was afraid of not getting clear margins.2. Reoccurring in good breast down the road.3. Being ahead of the cancer of I could. 4. Trying to be brave. I choose dbl mast. Only one was BC drs wanted lumpectomy.. It worked out best mine was bigger and margins would not have been clear. Went with my...

      more

      1. Was afraid of not getting clear margins.2. Reoccurring in good breast down the road.3. Being ahead of the cancer of I could. 4. Trying to be brave. I choose dbl mast. Only one was BC drs wanted lumpectomy.. It worked out best mine was bigger and margins would not have been clear. Went with my gut feeling it was right. Best of luck to you it's a hard decision. I miss my healthy breast :( but i felt like it was a bomb ticking.

      1 comment
  • linda scaman Profile

    I had screening mammograms, I was called back for more mammograms and ultrasound , was told I had one cyst and another nodule that is "probably" benign ...now I am going for another ultrasound. Does this sound normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Lysa Allison Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I would ask your doctor to biopsy the suspicious area if there has already been one ultrasound. What is another ultrasound going to show. A biopsy will let you know for sure. Good luck to you!

      Comment
    • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Everyone's different, and every doctor might treat the same situation differently. But in my experience, this is pretty typical. They probably want to take another, closer look at the benign nodule again, and for anything unusual that they didn't see the first time. If they haven't already, they...

      more

      Everyone's different, and every doctor might treat the same situation differently. But in my experience, this is pretty typical. They probably want to take another, closer look at the benign nodule again, and for anything unusual that they didn't see the first time. If they haven't already, they probably also will drain your cyst. It's done with a needle after numbing you up. Painless procedure.
      Please keep us posted on how everything goes. Best of luck!

      Comment

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