Waiting for Results From Surgery

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Getting the results of your pathology report

Just like the pathology report you received after your biopsy, you will also receive a pathology report after lumpectomy or mastectomy. The results of your pathology report will probably be ready 3 to 7 days after your surgery. This period of waiting may be one of the hardest you will face.

The best way to help yourself during this waiting period is to find out from your doctor—in advance—when you are likely to get a phone call and how the information will be given to you. Will it be over the phone? Or in an office visit? Prepare yourself for the fact that the pathology report comes back in pieces, so you will have only part of the answer you're looking for at first. Try not to make a judgment about your situation until all the information is available.

Once all the results are in, your doctor will review the pathology report with you and discuss next steps, including your need for additional ("adjuvant") therapy such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormonal or targeted therapy.

To help "translate" your pathology report and talk to your doctor about it, read our section on Your Diagnosis.

Questions to ask your surgeon after surgery

  • What were the results of my pathology report?
  • What further treatment do I need? 
  • If I’m having symptoms such as pain or nausea, how long will they last?
  • Are there any activity restrictions for me? When can I resume my normal activity level?

Expert Quote

"Many patients feel like they've lost control and are stuck in limbo. It seems like the results of the pathology report will tell you what your whole future will be like, but you don't know when you'll get the call or how it will turn out."

-- Marisa Weiss, M.D., president and founder, Breastcancer.org

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