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Breast Cancer Pathology Reports: What You Need to Know

Breast Cancer Pathology Reports: What You Need to Know


Want to know why it's important to get copies of your breast cancer pathology reports?

We will teach you all about it. When you're diagnosed with breast cancer, critical information is located in your pathology reports. Information about your cancer and the treatment that you're going to have. Ask your breast cancer specialists for copies of all of your pathology reports after all this information actually belongs to you.



It's information about your cancer to help guide you to learn more about your breast cancer and to have as a reference in the future.

In this lesson I'm going to teach you about what a breast biopsy pathology report is in the information that's important within it. I'm going to share with you why you must get a copy of your operative, surgical pathology report.

It gives you information about your surgery and your cancer. I'm also gonna tell you why you should ask for copies of your operative report from your breast cancer surgeon. And their history and physical which is a document and a wonderful summary of everything they know about your cancer up to the point of your surgery.

So let's get started what is a breast biopsy pathology report? Well this is your first piece of information about your breast cancer and it comes in sequence in a timeline so let me explain. The first bit of information after you undergo a biopsy of the lump in your breast hopefully with a needle by a radiologist or aggressive.

About a day or two or three you get the first piece of information and that is most importantly whether it's a cancer or precancerous. And secondly what type of cancer possibly the cell type whether it's a lobular cancer or a ductal cancer.

Now, once the pathologist who's looking at under the microscope figure out what's going on
knows it's a cancer then they take slides of your cancer and run additional studies and there are three receptors that are critical in making decision about how to treat you.

The first two receptors come out about two to four days after your initial biopsy they are called the estrogen receptor and the progesterone receptor and the report tells you whether they're positive if so how strongly positive or they're negative?

 The third receptor which is also important called HER2. HER2 comes out about four or five days after your initial biopsy and sometimes it's unclear whether it's positive or negative and they run additional tests that can take up to a week.

So putting all these receptors together is important for your doctors to guide you in your treatment. So even with a breast biopsy pathology report. After it's been completed. There's about a twenty to thirty percent chance that your doctors will already know that your receptor pattern suggests you might need chemotherapy.

So it's important to ask them for a copy of this report but also ask them if your receptor pattern suggests you might need chemotherapy.

What's an operative pathology report?

Well when you have surgery for your breast cancer it achieves two things:

Number one: It removes your cancer but just as important it tells you the stage of your cancer and gives your physicians more information after looking at all under the microscope, about how to best treat your cancer. This report comes out about three to five days after your surgery.

So let me give you an example, let's say you have a small one centimeter cancer you go to surgery the doctor takes it out does a lumpectomy, checks a couple of notes underneath your or called a sentinel node biopsy.

The pathologist gets that tissue and over three to five days cuts it up looks at it under the microscope to tell you whether the cancer has good margins around it you mean taking the cancer out get good normal tissue around it how big the tumor is and also they check the lymph nodes looking at them underneath the microscope to determine whether cells have traveled from the breast to the lymph nodes.


So that can put you at a stage zero, one, two, three, or four and that's all discussed in a different lesson called breast cancer stage at the breast cancer school for patients.


What it also tells you in addition to stage is that the information we get from that report will tell your medical oncologist or your surgeon that either one you need more surgery or two can help guide whether you might need chemotherapy or not meat chemotherapy based on multiple factors a lot of it has to do wit whether you have cancer in your lymph nodes that you otherwise didn't know about.


So when you return to see your surgeon generally about a week after your breast cancer surgery just to see how you're doing check the incisions and go over the results. Always ask for a copy of your operative pathology report.

Why ask for your breast surgeons operative report and history and physical? 


Well your operative report is a bit technical but it does list the exact surgery that they did generally gives the rationale why and any unusual findings that might have come during surgery to use as future reference mostly to share with physicians in the future that you might see. If you move to another town or out of the region.


Your history and physical is a document that really is a summary of who you are? what your medical status is? and most importantly what information your surgeon is put together in the rationale for the type of surgery that they were planning to do. So it's a fantastic summary of your cancer up to that point of surgery remember more happy after surgery more decisions are made.


But it's a good summary of how you presented with your cancer and why they did a surgery. This information over time in general about your breast cancer you'll start to forget the details and if in 5, 10, 20 years you're living elsewhere it is next to impossible to get copies of these reports from the original surgeon who may not be practicing in them anymore. The hospital may struggle finding it for you.


So now's the time to get this wonderful bit of information about your surgery and the summary of your cancer care up to that point to keep for your records so you can refer to it later. Your breast cancer pathology reports have critical information that guides your treatment and they actually belong to you. So make sure to get copies of these reports to learn more about your cancer and to have for reference in the future. 

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