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Understanding DCIS
- Causes of DCIS
- Genetic Testing
- Self Advocacy
- Decisions
- Screening
- Getting a Biopsy
- When DCIS is Diagnosed
- Getting a Second Opinion
- Psychological Impact
- Understanding Risk
- Treatment

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Reading a Biopsy Report

A surgical pathology report should include size, grade and margin status. These are important for determining appropriate treatment. A pathology report should address the following things:

  • How the tissue specimen was received by the pathologist. For example, the number of tissue samples or blocks; the fixative used; and the orientation; the location in the breast; and what type of surgical procedure was used to get this tissue sample.
  • The size of the sample tissue or specimen in three dimensions: height, width and depth.
  • Whether the entire specimen was examined.
  • The features of the DCIS such as nuclear grade, necrosis, architectural pattern.
  • An estimate of the size or extent of DCIS, if possible.
  • The location of microcalcifications: Are these present within the DCIS tissue, the normal breast tissue, or both?
  • Whether or not DCIS is found in the margins of the tissue samples. If the pathologist is able to determine how far the DCIS is from the margin, it should be stated in the report.

From these descriptions your doctor should be able to learn:

  • The size of the DCIS.
  • An assessment of the tissue around the DCIS (the margins), particularly:
    • Whether a ring of uninvolved tissue is present around all the DCIS.
    • The size of the clean tissue around the DCIS.
  • The type or types of DCIS that are present.

Tissue blocks are retained at the hospital, clinic or a tissue bank. Tissue banks facilitate biomedical research by providing services for the collection, storage, distribution and study of tissues. Privacy legislation protecting patient confidentiality applies to the use of this tissue. If you have concerns, please talk with your physician and the institution or clinic where your biopsy is performed.