Dr. Rachel Rucker-SchmidtAnatomic Pathology, Clinical Pathology

Pathological Evaluation of a Breast Biopsy

2 min read
After your breast tissue is sampled by an interventional radiologist or breast surgeon, the tissue is placed into formalin, a tissue preservative, and sent to a pathologist.
A pathologist is a doctor trained to analyze specimens that have been taken from patients.
She uses a microscope to look at your tissue and evaluate the tissue for possible cancer, atypia, infection, or other abnormality.
The sampled tissue will be processed and embedded in paraffin wax so that it can be cut into thin slices. The slices are thinner than a strand of hair!
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These slices will then be stained, typically with a hematoxylin and eosin stain, to allow the cells to be seen under the microscope.
Examination of the tissue under the microscope is usually performed 24 to 48 hours after the tissue is sampled.
A diagnosis can often be made that day, though for difficult cases or those requiring additional work-up, some cases can take up to a week or more.
Once a pathology report is finalized, it will be sent to the clinician who ordered your biopsy so that the results can be shared with you.
In some institutions, the pathologist may even call you to discuss the results.
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Once an accurate diagnosis is made, your doctor can plan the next steps in your treatment or follow-up.