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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

  • Jennifer Swallow Profile

    My doctor said that my mammogram and ultrasound show nothing, but the lumps are still there and sore. What should I do? I know an MRI would be good, but what if my doctor refuses to order one?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      This is your body.... the doctor can't refuse to order a test for you. I had a bit of an argument with my doctor about an MRI but he quickly relented and ordered it for me. An MRI will show what a mammogram and an ultrasound can't. In my case, it would have found my breast cancer much earlier....

      more

      This is your body.... the doctor can't refuse to order a test for you. I had a bit of an argument with my doctor about an MRI but he quickly relented and ordered it for me. An MRI will show what a mammogram and an ultrasound can't. In my case, it would have found my breast cancer much earlier. Be polite, be nice, but be persistant, and win this one as if your life depended on it. I hope Diana reads this as she will also support you in getting an MRI. You GO GIRL!

      2 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Jennifer. I totally agree with Sharon. You have lumps that a mammogram & ultrasound aren't picking up. Hopefully they are benign....but you don't know. It's crucial that you have an MRI preformed. I wished my doctors would have done one for me. Thus my cancer was found much too late. It is...

      more

      Hi Jennifer. I totally agree with Sharon. You have lumps that a mammogram & ultrasound aren't picking up. Hopefully they are benign....but you don't know. It's crucial that you have an MRI preformed. I wished my doctors would have done one for me. Thus my cancer was found much too late. It is your body and you need to demand more testing. If your doctor refuses then it might be time to find another doctor. Take care Jennifer & keep us posted

      Comment
  • Karen Milburn Profile

    triple neg type , t2 , grade 2 , 1 lymph node , chemo first then surgery , then radiation. anyone have statics on if lumpectomy or mastecomy is better , i heard it can re-occur with either surgery. Any advise?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    about 6 years 3 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2006

      I was diagnosed with TNBC stage 2A Grade 3 no lymph nodes with cancer. I had a lumpectomy , 16 rounds of chemo, 25 radiation treatments and that was 7 years ago. I remain Cancer Free and took the advise that my oncologist recommend since she was the professional at this. Ask your Dr for their...

      more

      I was diagnosed with TNBC stage 2A Grade 3 no lymph nodes with cancer. I had a lumpectomy , 16 rounds of chemo, 25 radiation treatments and that was 7 years ago. I remain Cancer Free and took the advise that my oncologist recommend since she was the professional at this. Ask your Dr for their recommendation as your decision will also depend on your age, family history, etc. best of luck in making your decision. My prayers and thoughts are with you!!!

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      There are doctors that specialize in Triple Negative breast cancer. That might be the best way to get the you are looking for. I'm not triple negative I started with a lumpectomy after treaent was done and went back and did a bi lat mastectomy. I just wanted them gone and safer breasts in their...

      more

      There are doctors that specialize in Triple Negative breast cancer. That might be the best way to get the you are looking for. I'm not triple negative I started with a lumpectomy after treaent was done and went back and did a bi lat mastectomy. I just wanted them gone and safer breasts in their place.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    lumpectomy done 9/27/13 how long for radiation treatments? out of state.i asked my dr. to forward all my information to my dr. here , which was done . i have called my doctors office several times,he hasn't called me back .what should i do?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • elma p. Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      My wait was also over 6 weeks before rads started. Take this time to rest and get your strength back. I also started moisturizing my breast area to make sure the skin was in good shape too. Don't know if it made a difference, but I made it through 30 treatments only slightly pink and no...

      more

      My wait was also over 6 weeks before rads started. Take this time to rest and get your strength back. I also started moisturizing my breast area to make sure the skin was in good shape too. Don't know if it made a difference, but I made it through 30 treatments only slightly pink and no irritations. Good luck to you!

      Comment
    • sharon s Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I waited a month post chemo

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Finished chemo and lumpectomy less than 3 wks away. Been strong through it all but suddenly feeling very emotional. Tumor has shrunk and no nodes indicated so all positives. Guess it's the unknown...??

    Asked by anonymous

    stage_4 Patient
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      There's always fear of the unknown. It sounds like you had a good response with chemo, congrats. You will be OK, I'm certain, take care.

      Comment
    • Life is Good! Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Congrats on finishing chemo! Celebrate! It is normal to have a roller coaster of emotions during the cancer journey. Allow yourself to feel the emotion, then try to move on to something that brings you joy. Yoga is a great stress reliever! If you feel blue most of the time, talk with your...

      more

      Congrats on finishing chemo! Celebrate! It is normal to have a roller coaster of emotions during the cancer journey. Allow yourself to feel the emotion, then try to move on to something that brings you joy. Yoga is a great stress reliever! If you feel blue most of the time, talk with your doctor. Love this quote: Don't miss the sun today, worrying about the rain coming tomorrow! I am an 11 year BC survivor and still worry... but please trust me.... it does get better and life is good after breast cancer! Wishing you a smooth surgery and recovery. Keep us posted on how you are doing! We care about you!

      Comment

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