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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
    about 7 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
  • patty pat Profile

    What is a grade 3 tumor?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Coco Smith Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      This depends on whether your laboratory is reporting using the English/Australian system often called the Nottingham Index or Bloom and Richardson VERSUS the American system.

      You did not say which country you were posting from.

      The answer above is correct for US and US based tumour rating...

      more

      This depends on whether your laboratory is reporting using the English/Australian system often called the Nottingham Index or Bloom and Richardson VERSUS the American system.

      You did not say which country you were posting from.

      The answer above is correct for US and US based tumour rating systems BUT in the Nottingham Index used in UK, Australia etc a Grade 3 means three individual scores of 1 [lowest risk] added together equals 3. Which under that system is the LOWEST score or the least aggressive form of cancer, not the more aggressive.

      Comment
    • sandy glisman Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I believe the grade is for agressiveness. 1. is mild, 2. moderate and 3. very agressive.

      Comment
  • Patricia Lindley Profile

    Should I get a lumpectomy or mastectomy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 1 answer
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I went in sugery expecting a lumpwctomy and ended up with a 7.3 cc lump and margins followed by 6 round of chemo and 35 radiation trearment an 5 uear of tamoxifem. 1/4 of my breast is gone the partial was my choice I'm happy with my choicr.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    What are the symptoms of a breast tumor?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 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

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