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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

  • shelley marshall Profile

    biopsy positive for ductal cancer but too much inflammation to id hormone receptor status. Don't you need to know the hormone receptor type first to determine best treatment plan for chemo?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    over 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Leah Fortune Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      It's a long road and a process ask for a copy of your biopsy report. Ask questions. If you get to nervous second opinions.

      Comment
    • Lou Cam Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Usually you do. I think that hormone negative cancers are most often treated With chemo because the hormone therapy would not be very effective. A lot of times patients with hormone positive bc are able to have the oncotype test done . As a result, chemo will not be recommended for...

      more

      Usually you do. I think that hormone negative cancers are most often treated With chemo because the hormone therapy would not be very effective. A lot of times patients with hormone positive bc are able to have the oncotype test done . As a result, chemo will not be recommended for everyone with hormone positive cancer.

      Comment
  • Patricia Carnell Profile

    Are there topical treatments to help with the burn from radiation. I was just diagnosed with Stage 0 dcis and had lumpectomy on Friday last week, surgeon is supposed to set up radiation with an oncologist soon

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 12 answers
    • View all 12 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Hi Patricia, my radiologist gave me Aquaphor. I didn't need it until my second week. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. I'm very fair but tolerated my 16 shots pretty well. Make a list of questions and don't be afraid to ask. Be sure to point out any concerns with your skin to the rad-techs....

      more

      Hi Patricia, my radiologist gave me Aquaphor. I didn't need it until my second week. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. I'm very fair but tolerated my 16 shots pretty well. Make a list of questions and don't be afraid to ask. Be sure to point out any concerns with your skin to the rad-techs. They'll help you when you need to see the radiologist . Mine were fabulous . My chest became an open book for all to read and I wanted it read WELL. :-D

      Comment
    • Doreen Finley Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Can I please just say that I don't even have my full diagnosis or really any understanding of what's going on yet. I'm overwhelmed and scared. I know my breast cancer has spread to several areas. This week I began radiation on lesions of my brain. I believe they are still getting tests...

      more

      Can I please just say that I don't even have my full diagnosis or really any understanding of what's going on yet. I'm overwhelmed and scared. I know my breast cancer has spread to several areas. This week I began radiation on lesions of my brain. I believe they are still getting tests results and planning treatment. However, my radiation techs and nurses have been amazing. They told me of this app. I signed up and browsed questions and FOUND answers. You are all wonderful and I cannot believe how much better I feel in 2 days. Should have dr appt Monday. Already have my list of questions. Today I'm going out o get some creams that were suggested. Just wanted to share my gratitude already Thank you - dor

      Comment
  • jirene kaulitz Profile

    I just found a bump on the side of my left breast. Can this be cancer ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 1 answer
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Not all lumps are cancer it could be a cyst, an infection abscess or a friboadenoma (a benign growth ). No matter what a breast lump needs to be evaluated by a doctor, do not wait.

      Comment
  • jenny l Profile

    I went to the doctor yesterday to have a biopsy done on a lump I found and once the doctor realized my age he wouldn't do any necessary tests because he said I was "too young" to have breast cancer and sent me home... What should I do?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 12 answers
    • View all 12 answers
    • Tiffani Warila Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hi Jenny, I went through the same thing, but it was the insurance company that said I was too young for a mammogram and ultrasound to be covered. My g.p. felt the lump that i had found and ordered the tests. The ins co said they wouldn't cover it. It took 15 min of the doc arguing why I needed...

      more

      Hi Jenny, I went through the same thing, but it was the insurance company that said I was too young for a mammogram and ultrasound to be covered. My g.p. felt the lump that i had found and ordered the tests. The ins co said they wouldn't cover it. It took 15 min of the doc arguing why I needed them done for them to say yes. I felt the lump last April when I was 29. I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in June. I would find another doctor that will listen to you. You do not want to wait if you feel there is an issue. How old are you, that the doctor says you are too young? I have met 3 ladies that are my age or younger just from this website. Unfortunately, no age is too young for a breast cancer diagnosis. If you have any other questions I am here to answer what I can. Best of luck to you. ~ Tiffani

      8 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      The other ladies are so right. Unfortunately there are still doctors out there that think there's an age limit on breast cancer. Not true!!!!!! You need to find a specialized breast center in your area. If you're not sure where to go...just call the American Cancer Society. They'll refer you to...

      more

      The other ladies are so right. Unfortunately there are still doctors out there that think there's an age limit on breast cancer. Not true!!!!!! You need to find a specialized breast center in your area. If you're not sure where to go...just call the American Cancer Society. They'll refer you to a good clinic in your area. Don't give up until you have an answer that you're content with. Don't ever hesitate to get a second opinion!!

      Comment

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