Pathologists — doctors who specialize in studying cells and tissue samples for signs of disease — will study the biopsy sample in the laboratory and make a diagnosis. Pathologists create a pathology report for your doctor. Once your doctor receives the report, you will be contacted with the results.

You can request a copy of your pathology report from your doctor. Pathology reports are usually filled with technical terms, so you may find it helpful to have your doctor review the report with you.

Your pathology report may include:

  • A description of the biopsy sample. This section of the pathology report, sometimes called the gross description, describes the biopsy sample in general. For instance, it may describe the color and consistency of the tissues or fluid collected by the needle biopsy procedure. Or it may say how many slides were submitted for laboratory analysis.
  • A description of the cells. This section of the pathology report describes how the cells appear under a microscope. This section may include how many cells and what types of cells were seen. Information on special dyes that were used to study the cells in order to gather more information about the diagnosis and the best treatments also may be included.
  • The pathologist's diagnosis. This section of the pathology report lists the pathologist's diagnosis. It may also include comments, such as whether other tests are recommended.

The results of your needle biopsy will determine the next steps in your medical care. Talk with your doctor about what your results mean for you.

Aug. 31, 2012