Breast biopsy results are usually available within one to two business
days. A post-biopsy appointment will be made to evaluate the biopsy site
and discuss results. Your referring physician will also be informed of
the biopsy results. The pathology report helps physicians to determine
which treatment options are best for the individual patient. Patients
may ask for a copy of the pathology report to review or for second opinion
The pathology report varies, but generally includes information about the
Diagnosis – for example DCIS, early breast cancer, invasive breast cancer, etc.
Size and location of the cancer – the size and location of the cancer is an important component in determining
what treatment options are best.
Surgical margin – after a surgical biopsy or breast surgery, the surgeon removes the cancer
and some healthy surrounding tissue. The healthy breast tissue is called
the surgical margin. If there are no cancer cells in the healthy surrounding
tissue, it’s likely that all of the cancer was removed. In this
case, the surgical margin is said to be “clear.” If there
are several cancer cells in the healthy surrounding tissue, it is likely
that not all the cancer was removed, the surgical margins is said to be
“involved.” In this case, the patient may need additional surgery.
Hormone receptor status – the pathology report may indicate whether or not the cancer cells have
hormone receptors. If the cancer is hormone receptor positive, this means
the growth of the cancer is affected by hormones. This will help physicians
to determine whether hormonal therapy may be beneficial as part of the
patient’s treatment protocol.
Lymph node status – the pathology report also indicates whether there are cancer cells in the
lymph nodes. This will affect whether systemic treatments such as chemotherapy
and/or hormonal therapy are recommended.
Hoag Cancer Center offers a special class, “Understanding Your Pathology
Report” as part of its
Breast Cancer Educational Series.