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Topic: Why do biopsy results take so long?

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried — Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time.

Posted on: Oct 22, 2009 06:39PM

Sav20 wrote:

I had my biopsy on Tuesday.  They said it would be 3-4 days.  I called today hoping to get results by Friday and my doc told me that once they get them, they will call me to make an appointment for me to come in.  I feel like my life is on hold.  I can't sleep, I can't relax, and I just keep crying in front of my 2 year old son.  How do we get through this waiting game???

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Oct 22, 2009 07:05PM, edited Oct 22, 2009 07:10PM by leaf

Waiting is just awful.

I'm not trying to apologize for the biopsy result process, but it is lengthy. 

First they get the tissue into the lab.  They have to ink it, preserve it, then they have to dehydrate the sample, and remove the chemical used for dehydration, then they have to stick it in parafin, and let it dry.  Then they have to cut it into thin sections (this takes a lot of skill and practice), then letting it dry on the slide. Then, if staining needs to be done, they have to remove the parafin from the tissue, then a coverslip is added. 

If calcium deposits are in the tissue, they have to be removed before sectioning.http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/HISTHTML/HISTOTCH/HISTOTCH.html

At some point, if it is malignant, or high risk, they may stain the tissue with different stains or antibodies or chemicals to help identify the cells and their properties.

Then the pathologist has to look at the slide, and dictate the result.  Then the secretary has to type the report, and send it to your doctor. 

At least one poster here found her institution sent her slides to another institution to get a 2nd opinion (without telling her about the delay of several weeks duration.)

You don't want to rush the pathologist and have them make a mistake.   The pathology report is the diagnosis, and, if cancerous, often gives you information about treatment.

Some people find distraction helps.  Some people go to their docs for anti-anxiety meds.  Some people find vigorous exercise, talking with friends, meditation, religion, or biofeedback helps.  Some people find retail therapy, or watching light hearted comedies help.

Feel free to ask questions or vent.  Its awful waiting.

If you're going through hell, keep going-Winston Churchill

Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, Stage 0, ER+/PR-Hormonal Therapy 07/15/2006 Tamoxifen
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Oct 22, 2009 08:51PM Lisa1962 wrote:

Sav20, I'm so sorry that you are still waiting for your results, but leaf is right----you want them to take their time and get it right the first time!  I had my MRI guided biopsy on a Tues. back on Sept. 29th, and Thurs. morning had the results, however, I think that it all depends on how busy the pathologists are, etc.  I completely feel your pain about the wait being just excruciating!  I seriously wasn't able to take a deep breath for the almost 3 weeks of tests, waiting for results, etc.  

I hope and pray that they will call you tomorrow (Fri.), but if you have to wait through the weekend, check back here so that we can give you support.  Know that I'm thinking of you and praying for good results.  Not knowing is the absolute worst!  I remember the Breast Center nurse telling me that after you know, a plan can be put into action, and you feel so much better.  Please let us know how you are doing, and what you find out.  Try your best to take a deep breath.  Believe me, I know that it's very difficult.  You are in my prayers....Lisa

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Oct 24, 2009 02:56PM unklezwifeonty wrote:

Leaf is absolutely right. Just the setting of the tissue into formaldehyde and wax takes 48 hours. Add pathologist's review of technician's findings, transcription of dictated report and final review/signing of report. So it easily takes 3-6 days. Then there are times when the lab is backed up or someone is on leave and the results can easily take 7-10 days.

Lumpectomy 8/2009. Chemo Start 9/2009. 4 DD ACB -> 4 DD Abraxane (Taxol Reaction) + Zometa

Dx 7/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 1/9 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Oct 25, 2009 04:52PM, edited Oct 25, 2009 04:54PM by deb50

Hi.  Did they give you any info whether cancer possible or not when they did your biopsy?  Best wishes to you--I hope you hear good news really soon! 

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Oct 25, 2009 04:55PM navygirl wrote:

I'm sending you a big THAT SUX...I know I would have been a nervous wreck if I'd had to wait over the weekend...I hope you hear from them first thing tomorrow morning (good news, of course). 

life is short, play hard

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Oct 25, 2009 06:26PM karinda1 wrote:

Dear NavyGirl,

I went through this last week.  Leaf is right about the procedure of what the pathologist does but then I think it's a matter of how all the docs communicate in order to get the results to you.  I was told after the core biopsy on a Monday that it would take 3-5 business days and that the results would go to my PCP who would call.  So I waited until the next Monday (going crazy but not wanting to bug anyone), then called my pcp--nurse said she would get results and dr would call back.  No call back that day so next I call radiologist who said she had the results WITHIN 48 HOURs and  sent them to PCP same day.  My PCP apologized when he did finally call--said he saw the report on Friday but since it was B9 that it could wait until the next week!  I had the lab cc the results to my ob/gyn who called me and was furious that he had not been in the loop (even though I had asked for all mammos and US resutls to be sent to him also.  So he made an appt with a surgeon even before my PCP called back.  And this circus was from a major breast cancer center at Yale. So I waited an whole extra week for nothing.

So bottom line, after 48 hours, start calling  your doc and the radiologist until you get an answer. Don't wait for them. And get a copy of the report for yourself.

BTW, when I finally read the report myself it was not exactly completely B9--there are questionable cells so they want to remove the lump. 

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Oct 25, 2009 06:42PM momoftwo71 wrote:

I know what you are going through and I sympathize. I had my biopsy last Monday and was told results would be in Wed. then told Thursday then told my biopsy had been sent somewhere else to be checked. It is really hard to wait on the results and keep it together. Through this entire ordeal I have kept as busy as I can cleaning and organizing. Im still thinking about it but it helps to just keep busy. The weekends are the longest but at least Im able to leave this house, I know they wont call then. My heart goes out to you and I hope you hear something soon, sending you b9 wishes.

Kim

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Oct 25, 2009 06:58PM shadow2356 wrote:

I think the waiting was the hardest part of the whole thing. Someone on here once said it was like being eaten slowly by sharks. How true. I hope you get good news. Try to stay busy.

 MaryEllen

MaryEllen, 44, Mom to Julianna, 2 years, bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP, BRCA-, 10/09/09 maryellenandjulianna.blogspot.... taxotere, carboplatin and herceptin X6, herceptin will be for a year

Dx 8/14/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+Surgery 10/09/2009 Mastectomy (Both); Reconstruction: DIEP flap (Both)Chemotherapy 12/07/2009 carboplatin, TaxotereTargeted Therapy 12/07/2009 Herceptin
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Oct 25, 2009 10:44PM Harley44 wrote:

so sorry you have to wait ...  the waiting is truly the hardest part.

I agree with the advice that the others have given.  I just wanted to post to let you know that I'm thinking of you...   I had my biopsy on a Thursday, and my surgeon made an appt. for me to come in on the following Tues. to get my results...  they may not have ALL the pathology done, but at least you will have the answer...  I'm praying for you.  Remember that 80% of these 'things' are benign.

HUGS

Harley

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Oct 29, 2010 04:03PM pattyems wrote:

I had my biopsy on wed and was told I might hear friday and now told Mon or Tues.

I am alone all weekend and do not know how I will get thru this. A lump was found on a routine mammogram and I had subsequent additional pictures followed by an ultrasound. This is so hard.

Patty

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Oct 29, 2010 04:29PM jeanette41 wrote:

I would have loved to have received my results in 3-4 days. The waiting is terrible. I waited over two weeks for biopsy results here in Nova Scotia!!  Things here are very slow......

Dx 9/2010, IDC, 2cm, Grade 1, 0/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 31, 2010 04:58PM texasrose361 wrote:

Just checking in- did you get your results? Praying for B9!

Children 17g, 7g, 7b, 5b :) Mets to ribs, sternum, femur, esophagus, retroperitoneal LN, and lungs. Mi vida en rosa... حياتي باللون الوردي... Mo shaol i bándearg... 我的生活在粉紅色.. Pembe Hayatım.. Ma vie en rose.. החיים שלי בוורוד.. Моя жизнь в розовом

Dx 7/22/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Oct 31, 2010 06:01PM gutsy wrote:

Biopsy results seem to take 4-5 business days, so if a weekend falls in there it may take a little longer. It is difficult to wait on the results. Sometimes they give you an indication at the time of the biopsy, depending on the radiologist.