A doctor who specializes in diagnosing cancer and other tissue abnormalities (pathologist) will evaluate the prostate biopsy samples. The pathologist can tell if the tissue removed is cancerous and, if cancer is present, estimate how aggressive it is. The pathologist compiles the laboratory findings in a pathology report that's given to your doctor. Your doctor will explain the findings to you and, if you like, you can ask for a copy of your pathology report for future reference.

Your pathology report may include:

  • Information about your medical history. A pathology report may include a discussion of your medical history and any other tests that prompted your doctor to recommend a prostate biopsy.
  • 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 prostate tissue collected by the needle biopsy procedure. Or it may say how many samples were submitted for laboratory analysis.
  • A description of the cells. This section of the pathology report describes how the cells appear under a microscope. Prostate cancer cells may be referred to as adenocarcinoma in a pathology report. Sometimes the pathologist finds cells that appear abnormal but aren't cancerous. Words used in pathology reports to describe these noncancerous conditions include "prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia" and "atypical small acinar proliferation."

    If the pathologist finds cancer, it's graded on a scale called the Gleason score. This scale rates how different the cancer cells are from normal tissue. The lowest rating is 2, and the highest is 10. Cancers with a high Gleason score are the most abnormal and are more likely to grow and spread quickly.
  • 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.
April 26, 2013