You just had a breast biopsy(BYE-OP-SEE) — Removal of a sample or piece of tissue to identify abnormalities. And now that the procedure is complete, you are probably wondering what happens next? Well, the sample(SAM-PULL) — The tissue obtained from a biopsy or surgery collected during the biopsy is sent to a pathologist(PATH-ALL-O-JIST) — A doctor who specializes in looking at tissue samples to identify diseases such as cancer to be analyzed. After completing the testing, the pathologist will supply one of 4 possible results.
So, what are the possible biopsy results?
Result 1: Inconclusive
This is when the biopsied sample does not match the images captured from screening(SKREE-NING) — Using a test to find a specific disease or condition at an early point in the course of a disease and diagnostic testing. The results just don't make sense with what was seen on the other tests.
Next Step: Excisional biopsy
An excisional biopsy(EX-SIZ-SHUN-OL BYE-OP-SEE) — Surgical removal of a larger piece of abnormal tissue or an entire small mass will likely be recommended so that the doctors can collect a larger sample for testing.
Result 2: Negative for Cancer - Benign
Take a sigh of relief. Benign(BE-NINE) — A growth in the body that is neither invasive nor cancerous and has a very low risk of spreading means that it is not cancer. The biopsy could have shown that it was normal tissue(TISH-YOU) — The accumulation of cells that make up parts of the body, like organs or a noncancerous, abnormal(AB-NOR-MOL) — Something that is not supposed to happen growth. While a benign growth is not cancer, some types can be associated with an increased risk for cancer in the future.
Next Step: It depends...
You may be recommended to have “short-term” follow up imaging, usually in 6 months. Or, if there is no concern at all, you may be recommended to return to your regularly scheduled screening in a year. In some cases, you might be advised to have the growth removed (surgery(SIR-JER-REE) — Physical removal of a tumor) or offered preventative medications if the doctor believes you have increased risk for cancer.
A benign growth can be compared to a wildflower, like a daisy. A daisy is not directly harmful to your garden, so it doesn’t always need to be removed. But sometimes a daisy can help predict if a dandelion will grow in the future.
Result 3: Negative for Cancer - Premalignant Growth
Premalignant(PRE-MA-LIG-NENT) — A growth that will worsen and grow into a cancer, becoming malignant if not removed growths are also not invasive(IN-VAY-ZIV) — Something that penetrates or enters cancers, but they can develop into cancer in the future.
Next Step: Surgery and Medication
You will usually be recommended additional surgical procedures to remove the mass(MAS) — An abnormal growth or tissue before it grows into cancer. Additionally, since a premalignant growth signals that the breast is susceptible to invasive cancer(IN-VAY-ZIV CAN-SIR) — A growth that penetrates or enters the surrounding tissue and can spread to other parts of the body, preventative medications are commonly recommended.
A premalignant growth can progress into cancer, which is comparable to a yellow dandelion (without seeds). If you leave the yellow dandelion in the ground too long, it will grow seeds and gain the ability to spread.
Result 4: Positive for Cancer - Malignant Growth
Unfortunately, sometimes the tissue is cancerous. If you get these results, take a deep breath and remember that you have a whole medical team and your loved ones ready to support you through it. And, we at Dr. Joe Explains are here to walk you through what you need to know moving forward.
Next Step: Discuss Treatment Options
You will likely be referred to a surgeon to begin discussing your treatment(TREET-MINT) — Techniques to help eliminate or control a disease options.
Malignant(MA-LIG-NENT) — A cancer or abnormal tumor that grows uncontrollably and may spread to other parts of the body breast cancer is like a dandelion. Both dandelions and breast cancer have deep, invasive roots and may have “seeds” that can spread.