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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

  • Kathy Greenwood Profile

    What sort of testing should be done following a bi-lateral mastectomy with DCIS in left breast (recurrence) and ILCS in right breast of 1.5 cm? I had no reconstruction done - what tests would be recommended for someone in my situation?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 1 answer
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I had dcis and a 0.7 small Idc tumor, I had a mastectomy n chemotherapy n herceptin. My oncologist said I only need a mammo yearly, no reason for any other testing.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    What are the symptoms of a breast tumor?

    Asked by anonymous

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

      Anonymous,
      Usually you would feel a lump or a suspicious area in the breast is seen in a mammogram. Breast cancer doesn't just come in "one flavor".... there are different types of breast cancer that do not form a lump. That is why it is important to know what "normal" is for your breasts. On...

      more

      Anonymous,
      Usually you would feel a lump or a suspicious area in the breast is seen in a mammogram. Breast cancer doesn't just come in "one flavor".... there are different types of breast cancer that do not form a lump. That is why it is important to know what "normal" is for your breasts. On this site you can find the list of symptoms that could signal things are not right. It is most important to do monthly self-checks and have a yearly exam. Breast cancer doesn't follow strict rules because it is sneaky. There is NO WAY you or even a doctor can tell it a lump is ok or not without a mammogram, or other diagnostic tests. If in doubt, get yourself to your doctor NOW. Personally, I found my lump which turned out to be breast cancer 7 months after my yearly mammogram.
      Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I had no symptoms. Mine was found on my yearly mammo. Stage 1,DCIS. Radiation all done and on Tamoxifen.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    My recent mammo compared to almost 2 years ago shows an enlargement and changes in density to an unknown mass is my right breast...going for biopsy...how worried should I be?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I know you'll probably worry even though we say hold off on that, but let action jump in the front seat and do the driving for now and worry will relunctantly crawl into the back seat while you're in that proactive mode. I agree that so many more suspicious things turn out to be benign. Keep up...

      more

      I know you'll probably worry even though we say hold off on that, but let action jump in the front seat and do the driving for now and worry will relunctantly crawl into the back seat while you're in that proactive mode. I agree that so many more suspicious things turn out to be benign. Keep up the posts, insist all tests be done that confirms what the change acutally is. I didn't. :-( I waited two years. Hang in there. Jo

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      There would be a concern with a change like yours from one mammogram to another. It is understandible if you were to be worried as we all would be worried. At this point, a difference has been identified and it warrants finding out why. For every bad outcome, there are a ba-zillion benign...

      more

      There would be a concern with a change like yours from one mammogram to another. It is understandible if you were to be worried as we all would be worried. At this point, a difference has been identified and it warrants finding out why. For every bad outcome, there are a ba-zillion benign reasons for these differences. You just need to follow up with the appropriate tests . These usually go as possibly, another mammogram, ultrasound, and needle biopsy. All of these could happen and it STILL can turn out to be benign. I have been there done that as many of us have. Try to take each step at a time and don't project into the future as it being ...for sure breast cancer. SO MANY of my pals have gone through these testing procedures and every single one of them have had benign outcomes. I didn't, but when I felt --the lump-- I really did know it was breast cancer just by the way it felt. My doctor also confirmed it even before all the testing started. Anyway..... many more benign findings than breast cancer.
      Hang in there and keep us posted. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Does hook wire hurt?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      To answer Vicki, a hook wire is a piece of wire that is placed in the tumor from the outside of your breast using and ultra sound, usually just before surgery, so it makes it easier for the doctor to locate the lump. I didn't have one because I had a mastectomy but I am told they are not that...

      more

      To answer Vicki, a hook wire is a piece of wire that is placed in the tumor from the outside of your breast using and ultra sound, usually just before surgery, so it makes it easier for the doctor to locate the lump. I didn't have one because I had a mastectomy but I am told they are not that painful.

      Comment
    • K G Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Are you talking about right before a lumpectomy? I had a wire placed the day of surgery, and it was similiar to the biopsy I had. It did not hurt me much.

      Comment

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