What can a pathologist learn from a biopsy of cancerous tissue?

What does a pathologist look for in a biopsy to determine if a tissue is cancerous?

After doctors obtain the biopsy, the sample goes to a pathologist who analyzes the appearance of the cells under a microscope and determines whether the tissue that was removed is benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

What biopsy reports tell?

For many health problems, a diagnosis is made by removing a piece of tissue for study in the pathology lab. The piece of tissue may be called the sample or specimen. The biopsy report describes what the pathologist finds out about the specimen.

What does it mean if a biopsy is positive?

Another important factor is whether there are cancer cells at the margins, or edges, of the biopsy sample. A “positive” or “involved” margin means there are cancer cells in the margin. This means that it is likely that cancerous cells are still in the body.

Why would a biopsy need further testing?

If your pathologist suspects certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma, he or she might need to perform additional testing to determine the subtype. This process takes an additional 24 to 96 hours, depending on the complexity of the cancer.

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Does biopsy always mean cancer?

Biopsies are typically associated with cancer, but just because your doctor orders a biopsy, it doesn’t mean that you have cancer. Doctors use biopsies to test whether abnormalities in your body are caused by cancer or by other conditions.

Do biopsy results take longer if it’s cancer?

Once the sample is collected, it is sent to the lab for analysis to determine if the cells are cancerous. Generally, it takes about two working days to receive results, but it sometimes takes longer if additional testing is needed.

What percentage of biopsies are cancer?

About 4 out of every 5 breast biopsies are negative for cancer. For a breast biopsy, a small amount of tissue is taken out. A biopsy tells if a lump or suspicious area is cancer.

What does it mean if a biopsy is benign?

Fortunately, most breast biopsies come back as “benign”. This means that the biopsied area shows no signs of cancer or anything dangerous. When a biopsy comes back with one of these benign diagnoses, no treatment is usually necessary, and we usually recommend returning to routine yearly screening for women over age 40.

Can a positive cancer biopsy be wrong?

Although tests aren’t 100% accurate all the time, receiving a wrong answer from a cancer biopsy – called a false positive or a false negative – can be especially distressing. While data are limited, an incorrect biopsy result generally is thought to occur in 1 to 2% of surgical pathology cases.