02 October 2008
01 October 2008
Your Pathology Report
At a Glance
Manage Your Anxiety
Getting tests done and waiting for their results can create a lot of anxiety. Here are some suggestions to help you manage your anxiety:
- Get to know the people on your medical team and make every effort to meet them in person. You'll find out who is the best communicator, who can answer which questions, who is available to help you when you need it most.
- Find a doctor who communicates with you who invites your questions and takes your concerns seriously, who gives you as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with.
- Make plans with your doctor about how to receive test results in a prompt way. Try to schedule important tests early in the beginning of the week, so you don't have to wait over a long weekend, when lab work may slow down or doctors aren't communicating with each other.
In this section you'll find the web version of the breastcancer.org booklet: Your Guide to the Breast Cancer Pathology Report.
Wait for the Whole Picture
Waiting is so hard! But just one test can lead to several different reports. Some tests take longer than others. Not all tests are done by the same lab. Most information comes within one to two weeks after surgery, and you will usually have all the results within a few weeks. Your doctor can let you know when the results come in. If you don't hear from your doctor, give her or him a call.
Get All the Information You Need
Be sure that you have all the test information you need before you make a final decision about your treatment. Also, don't focus too much on any one piece of information by itself. Try to look at the whole picture as you think about your options.
Different labs and hospitals may use different words to describe the same thing. If there are words in your pathology report that are not explained in this booklet, don't be afraid to ask your doctor what they mean.
Breast Cancer Stage
The pathology report will help your doctor decide the stage of your breast cancer. It could be:
- stage 0
- stage I (1)
- stage II (2)
- stage IIIA (3A)
- stage IIIB (3B)
- stage IV (4)
Staging is based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes are involved, and whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast. Your doctors use all parts of the pathology report as well as the breast cancer stage to shape your treatment plan.
How to Start
First, check the top of the report for your name, the date you had your operation, and the type of operation you had. Make sure they are right for you.
Parts of Your Report
- Specimen: This section describes where the tissue samples came from. Tissue samples could be taken from the breast, from the lymph nodes under your arm (axilla), or both.
- Clinical history: This is a short description of you and how the breast abnormality was found. It also describes the kind of surgery that was done.
- Clinical diagnosis: This is the diagnosis the doctors were expecting before your breast tissue sample was tested.
- Gross description: This section describes the tissue sample or samples. It talks about the size, weight, and color of each sample.
- Microscopic description: This section describes the way the cancer cells look under the microscope.
- Special tests or markers: This section reports the results of tests for proteins, genes, and how fast the cells are growing.
- Summary or final diagnosis: This section is the short description of all the important findings in each tissue sample.
30 September 2008
This is where the gift of breast cancer really helps. The question to ask is, "Can I control anything in this situation?" If the answer is no, then I have to let go of worry and obsession. I had to ask myself that question about 20 times yesterday to regain my sanity. I did yoga when I got home and felt much better. I see a lot of yoga in my future.
On my own personal crazy front, my therapist and I will see each other once a month. As long as I have this job, I can afford that much at least. It's so incredibly predictable that all hell would break loose within days of being, essentially, on my own. On the other hand, as we all know, I can survive anything. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, though, whether that's such a good thing.
Tomorrow is the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'll be posting breast cancer information all this month.