UNDERSTANDING YOUR PATHOLOGY REPORT
Diagnosis from tissue is considered the standard on which treatment for mesothelioma is based. Therefore, understanding your pathology report is important in order to help you make informed treatment decisions and be comfortable with what you decide. Obtaining a copy of this report from your doctor or the hospital medical records department can not only make you more knowledgeable about your mesothelioma, but can also help keep you in control of your treatment.
Unfortunately, pathology reports are written in language not always understandable to the lay person, however, following is a brief description of what the report should contain. If you have any questions regarding anything in your report, you should always feel free to have your doctor interpret it for you.
- Report date. The date of the pathology report as it corresponds to the date of the actual biopsy procedure.
- Personal Information. The patient’s name, date of birth and identification numbers.
- Clinical History. A short history of the patient, why the biopsy was recommended and the type of surgery performed.
- Clinical Diagnosis. A brief description of the possible diagnosis based on the referring doctor’s physical examination of the patient.
- Gross Description. A “naked eye” description of the tissue received for examination as well as the origin of the sample(s) taken.
- Microscopic Description. A description of the tissue sample under microscopic examination. This portion of the report may contain technical information.
- Immunohistochemical Analysis. A description of the various chemical stains used to help diagnosis the cancer. This reports the “positives” and “negatives” that lead the diagnosis in one direction or another.
- Diagnosis. A summary of the microscopic findings, confirming or denying malignancy, and if malignant, giving the histologic type of the cancer.
As mentioned earlier, pathology reports can be confusing and may require some interpretation by your doctor, however, as a patient, understanding is crucial to the choices you will make. Your pathology report is a document every patient should request and keep in their personal medical file.
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