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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 posted a few days ago about my sentinel node and lumpectomy. I had the surgery yesterday which took four hours instead of one and a half. The doctor found lymph node involvement. How does this affect my chance of survival?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    almost 8 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      The same thing happened to me. I don't ponder my chance of survival because NO ONE can predict your life span. My surgery was 5 years ago, I am still alive, obviously, and try not worry. I leave the worrying up to my team of doctors. My job is to live the life I have to the fullest.... which...

      more

      The same thing happened to me. I don't ponder my chance of survival because NO ONE can predict your life span. My surgery was 5 years ago, I am still alive, obviously, and try not worry. I leave the worrying up to my team of doctors. My job is to live the life I have to the fullest.... which I am doing. Doctor's talk in percentages because that is how they set out your treatment plan. My doctor said even though I had a lymph node that was positive, it did not change my treatment plan at all. I went from a 2A to a 2B. Worrying about your demise is a destructive behavior. Focus on getting through your treatment, in the most positive way you can. Worrying, is not going to change anything anyway, it will just make you miserable. Again.... only God knows how long we have here.... there are plenty of women who have long outlived a "statistic". We are not numbers.... we are living, breathing, wonderful women! Positive thinking and affirming statements are what you need... not predictions of the end of your life. Hang in there, you will make it.
      Take care, Sharon

      2 comments
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Hi, Please don't begin to worry about survival rates. You've begun the journey to good health and life. There will be soooo many factors to consider in the coming days that will determine your special plan and your doctors will guide you through each level of that treatment. Make a list of every...

      more

      Hi, Please don't begin to worry about survival rates. You've begun the journey to good health and life. There will be soooo many factors to consider in the coming days that will determine your special plan and your doctors will guide you through each level of that treatment. Make a list of every question-small, large, odd, and profound-they are eager to answer them and will be much more open if they see you're a patient hungry for info. You will be the most valuable partner in this quest to a rich and long life. Breathe and lean on those around you and be amazed at the strength that will carry you through ONE DAY AT A TIME. Hugs and waiting for you on the path to healing. :-D Jo

      Comment
  • Ruth W Profile

    i am scheduled for a lumpectomy on 10/15/14. w what to expect regardingatpain like? i am also having a sentinel. lyph biopsy. i plan to go back to work 6 days later.

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since
    over 5 years 11 answers
    • View all 11 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      there are no drains with this small procedure.

      Comment
    • sharon s Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      A lumpectomy does NOT involve drains. I went back to work an the fourth day after a partial masectomy. No drains involved in that either. Hope the nodes are clear. The lymph test makes you pee blue that day only. You will be a smurf.

      8 comments
  • Christina  Swanson  Profile

    Can a benign tumor turn malignant?

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    almost 9 years 1 answer
    • Coco Smith Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Yes, a benign tumour can turn malignant.

      Comment
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