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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

  • Robyn Alford Profile

    I was recently diagnosed had a lumpectomy but haven't started any treatments yet but I find myself very tired even after a lil exertion is that normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 1 answer
    • Lysa Allison Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hi Robyn, I felt very tired too after having a lumpectomy. You have just had surgery and your body is healing. I also felt tired after radiation. What I did was try to take care of myself, eat right, and get plenty of rest. You may want to talk with your doctor just to be sure there is nothing...

      more

      Hi Robyn, I felt very tired too after having a lumpectomy. You have just had surgery and your body is healing. I also felt tired after radiation. What I did was try to take care of myself, eat right, and get plenty of rest. You may want to talk with your doctor just to be sure there is nothing else going on. Best if luck to you and remember God loves you.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    What does 1.5 cm mean?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 1 answer
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      When measuring tumors, physicians measure in centimeters. (meters instead of inches)
      1.5 centimeters = 0.590551181 inches (a little over 1/2 inch) You can "google" conversion tables cm. into inches.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I am going in for a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy. Could anyone please tell me about the pain involved and the experience of the whole procedure?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    almost 8 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • P C Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 0 Patient

      Hi, I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy on Sep 29, 2011. My surgery went great, wide clear margins and both nodes they removed were negative. About two weeks following that, I developed some seromas in my breast at the surgery site and at the area just below node removal. My surgeon...

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      Hi, I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy on Sep 29, 2011. My surgery went great, wide clear margins and both nodes they removed were negative. About two weeks following that, I developed some seromas in my breast at the surgery site and at the area just below node removal. My surgeon drained the one below the node removal only one. He gave me pain medication to he me through that. About a month later, I had external pinpointed beam radiation for only 7 days, twice a day. It was not bad at all. I did have, and still do have what mu radiation oncologist calls zingers. They are very sharp pains, which have almost gone away. My seromas are completely gone. I have intermittent swelling on my right breast, which they say is normal. It also is less and less as time passes. Right now, I am taking Tamoxifen and Effexor. I am feeling so much better, but still not totally back to feeling as I did before my DCIS surgery, but I will get there. I had my 6 month mammogram and it was all good, only showed scar tissue from surgery and radiation. every so often, I have a bit of nausea, but I have found that if I drink ginger ale, it really helps. I have a prescription for Compazine, but have only had to use it twice. I had a little nausea and fainting incident a few months ago, but it all worked out. I fell pretty hard and had to have some metal stitches in my head, and a few days I the hospital to make sure it was nothing more Eros causing me to faint. All in all, it is goin good for me. My whole procedure was eventful, but not a bad thing. It is best to educate yourself on your contusion, mine was DCIS, stage 0 , clear margins, neg sentinel nodes, but positive estrogen and progesterone receptors. This is the reason for Tamoxifen. The Effexor was to counteract the hot flashes and it has really helped me feel better and speed up recovery. If you understand you care for your cancer plus a good support network, things, or me anyway, go muc smoother.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      We are unique individuals and can have a range of reactions to any procedure. I was on the "good" end of everything. I did not seem to have much discomfort with anything. My perception of discomfort to the sentinel node mapping was no more than pinching. The tech told me I would feel that......

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      We are unique individuals and can have a range of reactions to any procedure. I was on the "good" end of everything. I did not seem to have much discomfort with anything. My perception of discomfort to the sentinel node mapping was no more than pinching. The tech told me I would feel that... which I did but it was nothing significant to me. I had 5 sentinal nodes removed. I had a mastectomy, I took no pain medication afterwards. I was up and around within 3 days. We all seem to have a fear or fears of what is about to happen. My big fear was the anesthesia. Since I was so afraid of it, I "interviewed" anesthesiologists and got recommendations. I think I was just SO HAPPY to wake up, the rest of the post-op stuff was nothing. We all have different pain tolerance. Mine, is obviously, on the high side. I would never say to a woman "Oh, it's nothing" because it isn't. There are a lot of mental images that go through every woman's mind. There may be some unexpected post-op problems that come up which you can't be prepared for. The other thought that went through my mind as I was approaching the surgery.... this was something I had to so to save my life. I developed a positive let's-get-going attitude and marched right into it. Sometimes bravery comes from acting that way. I became brave by --pretending-- to be brave. I wish you the very best and hope you have as easy a time as I did. I had a young woman surgeon who specialised in breast surgery. I had utmost confidence in her and my young woman anesthesiologist. I was not disappointed. Blessings to you in your journey. Take care, Sharon

      3 comments
  • Kim Peltola Profile

    What is a "fish test"?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 9 years 1 answer
    • Court Simas Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a test that “maps” the genetic material in a person’s cells. This test can be used to visualize specific genes or portions of genes. FISH testing is done on breast cancer tissue removed during biopsy to determine whether the cells have extra copies of...

      more

      Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a test that “maps” the genetic material in a person’s cells. This test can be used to visualize specific genes or portions of genes. FISH testing is done on breast cancer tissue removed during biopsy to determine whether the cells have extra copies of the HER2 gene. The more copies of the HER2 gene that are present, the more HER2 receptors the cells have. These HER2 receptors receive signals that stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.

      The FISH test results will tell you that the cancer is either “positive” or “negative” (a result sometimes reported as “zero”) for HER2.

      There's more on that from this site: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/fish.jsp

      1 comment

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