In a recent news release from the College of American Pathologists (CAP), physicians note that receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is a frightening ordeal for every woman. However, researchers have recently showed that patients studying their own pathology report, the primary tool used in making a breast cancer diagnosis, can be crucial to obtaining the most optimal patient outcomes. Compiled through rigorous scientific processes, team discussion and training, these reports pinpoint a diagnosis for physicians and help plan a treatment plan in order to address each patient’s specific needs.
Breast pathologist Jean F. Simpson from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Cancer Committee commented in a news release: “Effective breast cancer treatment means having the right diagnosis. The pathology report gives the entire care team a road map. Pathologists are highly trained experts who interpret laboratory test results and work collaboratively to establish the diagnosis, but their work happens behind the scenes and they may not meet patients. Women can work with their primary care providers to better understand their pathology report and diagnosis.”
What should a woman do in case she receives a breast cancer diagnosis? CAP suggests the following four key tips for breast cancer patients:
- Ask for the pathology report.
- Despite the fact of not being physicians, each woman can and should develop a basic understanding of what her pathology report means (read more).
- Some breast cancers fall into a grey zone, which is more complex to diagnose, making it important that patients receive some clarification from their doctors when looking at imaging, biopsies and other procedures.
- Understand what treatment options are available.
Every woman should feel confident about the path that leads to a breast cancer diagnosis, and in order to ensure accuracy, patients should be engaged in the diagnosis process in order to make the best treatment decisions possible. “Even when diagnosis is clear, women often have multiple treatment options. When women are familiar with their pathology report, they are in a better position to explore treatment choices that fit their personal needs. The ‘X-factor’ in good outcomes can often be a patient who gets all the facts of her case and fully engages with the care team,” concluded Dr. Simpson.