Waiting for biopsy results
September 9, 2010 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Just had an endometrial biopsy due to postmenopausal bleeding that started over the Labor Day weekend. The results could take two weeks or more and my next appointment is not for three weeks. Do any of you folks who are not my doctor know if this is a safe length of time to wait should it turn out to be cancer?
posted by lazydog to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
that sucks! but if, heaven forbid, results are bad, they will move up your appointment if it matters. Typically, that amount of time should not, but IANAD.
posted by Maias at 3:51 PM on September 9, 2010

Why, *I* am a person who is not your doctor! I have had a fair number of doctors inspect my hoo-hah back when I had WOMB CANCER, though, so I am TOTALLY unqualified to make a medical opinion and instead am just opinionated.

Fwiw, my various treatments took over a month from the second D&C showing hinky results to me hitting the hospital for the hysterectomy. In your position I might see is there a waiting list to get in to get tested a bit earlier, but I wouldn't worry otherwise. Caveat: we didn't know I had cancer until after the hysterectomy when the path lab was checking out my parts.

Good luck with the tests, and I hope it's Not Cancer.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:40 PM on September 9, 2010

Best answer: Oh, wait, you already had the biopsy. Yeah, 3weeks is fine. If something in the results demands faster response, they will almost certainly be All Over That Shit and drag you in ahead of time.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:42 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Echoing rmd1023 here -- I too hope it's not cancer. Fingers crossed!

And first of all - if your biopsy was anything like the two I went through, my sympathies. Actually those were more physically painful than any of the WOMB CANCER (heh - I generally say INTERNAL LADYPART CANCER but WOMB CANCER is a bit snappier) business that swiftly followed. That timing sounds about right to me. And when the second excruciating biopsy showed cancerous cells, they were indeed All Over That Shit! I had surgery about a month later and it took another month after that for them to tell me that we caught it early enough that I am, gratefully, so gratefully, considered cured.

Hang in there, and keep breathing. I truly hope it's NOT cancer, but MeMail me if there's anything else I can tell you!
posted by kittyb at 5:11 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mom had post-menopausal bleeding for several months (it nearly overlapped with her pre-menopausal bleeding, so she didn't get it checked out for a while) before she went in for a biopsy that, if I recall correctly, gave inconclusive results. I think they ended up doing a "safety" hysterectomy a month or two later, and while doing so, biopsied the uterine lining and found cancerous cells. She went for several radiation treatments afterward and has been absolutely fine for a couple of years now, with no trace of the cancer remaining.

Don't worry! I'm sure you'll be okay!
posted by olinerd at 5:16 PM on September 9, 2010

IANAD but I'm guessing the two weeks' time is pretty standard - I had this done earlier this year and didn't see my doctor for a followup until the third week. They had told me that it would take two weeks to get the results, and they'd call me if anything suspicious showed up. It didn't, but those three weeks of waiting were not easy! Here's hoping your results are as negative as mine were.
posted by chez shoes at 5:50 PM on September 9, 2010

CALL YOUR DOCTOR and express your concerns. Ask the receptionist to have him call you back when he is free, and confirm for you that this waiting period is not too long for safety.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:57 PM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: People ask this kind of thing a lot, and it totally makes sense, since we always talk about the importance of discovering cancer early. The thing is, we don't really mean days to weeks early. If someone has cancer that is symptomatic (like causing bleeding), the cancer has been growing for quite a long time already, and a few extra days or weeks doesn't make much of a difference in the vast majority of cancer cases, and virtually all endometrial cancers. If, indeed, it is cancer at all.

That said, your doctor will, in fact, be all over that shit. Don't be afraid to call, though, if you want to.

I'm keeping a good thought for you...the waiting must be torturous.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:16 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pssst... I'll tell you a secret. The vast majority of endometrial biopsies do not take more than a couple of days to signout depending on how long it takes to get to the lab. At my lab:
Day 1: Your GYN (read: operator of medieval torture instrument aka endometrial pipelle) hopefully gets an adequate sample. If your lucky, they've even fixed it correctly in formalin and their tech labeled it with your name (wonder of wonders). Maybe they bring it to the lab, maybe they stick it under the sink for a while - it's a crapshoot.
Day 2: My tech pours your formalin-filled biopsy container through a funnel into a strainer-bag and puts the little cancer bomb into a cassette for tissue-processing. It goes onto the tissue processor.
Day 3: My tech takes your biopsy and makes it into a paraffin block. Then they cut the block into a couple of slides and stain them for me to look at. (If this is a teaching hospital, then they give the slides to my resident - maybe she runs over them with her chair, maybe she just loses them, also a crapshoot; if it's not a teaching hospital then the case gets signed out today because God knows your delicate-genius of an GYN will get her panties in a wad if I don't already have her cases signed out yesterday)
Day 4: Slides are given to me. Hopefully, the coffee has kicked in or it's back to surfing the net for a bit. Hey, who put all of these cases here... I wonder how many of these patients will sue me? I guess they're not going to look at themselves. Hey here's another (one million and one, one million and two) benign endometrial biopsy. Yay /sarcastic voice. (this is all good, by the way, you don't EVER want to be interesting to a pathologist). OR Cancer OR (hopefully rarely) Uh, oh this EM biopsy looks funny, I better go find somebody smart to tell me what it is *sends case to super-smart person at super-smart-hospital who spends entire life every day looking at girl-part (otherwise known as 'The Organs of Darknessā„¢') pathology* <--- takes two weeks or more

TL;DR in 4 working days you can call your provider and ask them to check the computer because some slightly-socially-retarded pathologist was busting his hump to keep his turn-around-time down and already punched it out.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:29 PM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

I just had one a week ago Wednesday and I got the results (benign) this past Wednesday so why is the lab taking so long? Definitely call them and see what is the soonest you can get results. (Good luck!)

(Same issue - post menopausal spotting)
posted by Mysticalchick at 6:14 AM on September 10, 2010

Listen to i_am_a_Jedi. My dad is a pathologist and this is the exact procedure he described his residents going through from getting the sample to the pathologist signing them out. (Although he went into way more gory detail, so be thankful :)
posted by Mouse Army at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all. You helped me be less anxious.
Results were good, no cancer. The bleeding was caused by polyps.
posted by lazydog at 2:54 PM on October 10, 2010

YAY NO CANCER! *happy snoopy dance*
posted by rmd1023 at 3:12 PM on October 11, 2010

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