Biopsy: Things Every Patient Should Know

There is a member of your health care team who plays a vital role in your diagnosis and cancer care who you may never meet face to face: the pathologist. This is the doctor who analyzes the sample of tissue removed during a biopsy to make the correct diagnosis.

Here are 4 things this pathologist wants every patient to know about the biopsy. 

1. Biopsy sample size and location matter.

Pathologists are trained to evaluate many different types of tissue. They use powerful microscopes to evaluate the cells within each tissue sample. You can also look for geneticistinc to know more about biopsy samples.

2. The time required for biopsy results will vary.

Some biopsies can be performed in a doctor’s office or an outpatient clinic. These include shave biopsies, punch biopsies, Pap tests, and cervical biopsies, and even some fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) for the thyroid or lymph nodes. These procedures are usually fairly quick and might take 15 to 30 minutes to perform, depending on the part of the body being biopsied.

3. Pathologists make sure biopsy tissue is used effectively to determine an accurate diagnosis.

Pathologists are the caretakers of tissue samples and must exercise good judgment with them. Samples allow us to make a correct diagnosis. But we can also use the samples to perform additional tests, such as immunostains, which can identify where a tumor started. This is really valuable in treating cancer that has spread from another part of the body, called metastasis.

4. Pathologists seek multiple opinions, and patients can, too.

Pathologists participate in tumor board review. Tumor board review is an approach to planning cancer treatment in which a team of doctors from different specialties works together to reach an opinion.