A pathologist will review your biopsy and determine a diagnosis. Your physician will help you understand what your diagnosis means and what your next steps, if any, should be. The pathology report may use the following terminology:
- Tumor grade refers to the level of aggressiveness the cells demonstrate, ranging from Grade 1 (lowest grade) to Grade 3 (highest grade). This will be determined at the time of the image-guided biopsy.
- Stage refers to the size of the cancer, and whether or not the cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Staging is determined at or around the time of surgery.
- The TNM staging system is used to describe the size of the primary tumor and the spread of cancer to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
- T stands for the main tumor. The T category (T0, Tis, T1, T2, T3 or T4) is based on the size of the tumor and if it has spread to the skin over the breast or to the chest wall under the breast. The higher T numbers refer to a larger tumor and/or a wider spread to nearby tissues.
- N stands for spread to nearby lymph nodes. The N category (N0, N1, N2 or N3) indicates whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the breast and how many have been affected.
- M stands for metastasis. The M category (M0, M1) indicates whether the cancer has spread to other body parts. M0 suggests there is no sign that cancer has spread to other parts of the body. M1 indicates that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.