• How many biopsies does a diagnosis take?

    Asked by zippymaus on Saturday, July 14, 2012

    How many biopsies does a diagnosis take?

    My mother has had two CT scans, is having a PET tomorrow and an MRI next week. She's already had three biopsies and still her radiologist says he's not sure and thinks she needs a third biopsy before he knows what treatment she needs. Is this normal? In the meantime, she isn't getting any care for her newly discovered cancer. He hasn't even told us a stage yet after three biopsies. Anyone had this happen to them?

    4 Answers from the Community

    4 answers
    • RuthAnne's Avatar

      I had three biopsies: One needle biopsy to the bone (they didn't get enough material) One surgical bone biopsy (I had to have surgery anyway) - these were to determine where the cancer originated. I then had a lung biopsy performed to determine if there were any known genetic markers which would determine the course of treatment. so, to make a long story short, yes. This happens. It took four months post-diagnosis for all of the biopsies and lab work to be completed before I started treatment. I remember it being very frustrating, especially for family, who kept saying, "Why aren't you on chemo yet? What are they waiting for?" It worked out well in my case. Good luck to you and your mother!

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      There is a big difference between diagnosis and treatment. My first question would be why is her radiologist developing a treatment plan? Unless radiation has already been determined to be her only course of treatment, her medical oncologist should be in the lead, consulting with a radiation oncologist, surgeon, etc. as appropriate.

      Other wise what you describe is very typical. Developing a treatment plan that is best suited to her particular cancer and other factors specific to her (over all health, age, previous treatment, etc.) is half the battle. It is not in her best interest to jump into treatment that may not be suitable or effective for her.

      Most cancer treatments are highly toxic with lots of side effects. Minimum and maximum dosages and durations, frequency and order of treatments, and many other factors can literally mean the difference between life and death.

      Many newly diagnosed cancer patients may spend the first several months after initial diagnosis getting all kinds of tests, scans, biopsies, etc., not necessarily to confirm or refine the diagnosis, but to provide more specific information on the cancer and other conditions she may have in order to develop an effective and tolerable treatment plan.

      over 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      The time delay, while it makes you nervous, and you think they should be getting on with it, is normal. The last time I was diagnosed, I had the biopsy in Oct. and couldnt even see my oncology surgeon for two months. then it was almost another before surgery was done, another month another surgery was done, then two months later, started radiation. After that, I had pre-cancerous pollups removed from my colon that they new were there after my first petscan in Dec.
      It's hard, but be patient, you will get the best care from careful, patient dr.s that are making sure you get what you need.
      Best of luck to your mom, I hope she does well. I lost my Mom to lung cancer a couple years ago, it's tough to watch them go through it.

      over 4 years ago
    • collemarle's Avatar

      Hi Zippy, Like most have said here, it is not uncommon to have more than one biopsy. However, my question would be is it to determine treatment because they are trying to figure out what type of cervical cancer she has? There is a set protocol for your squemaus cell cervical across the board. This type accounts for about 70% of CC. If your mom is facing one of the other CC's, these are very rare and there is no set protocol. You mentioned to me you thought she may have the same rare cervical cancer (Small Cell Cervical) that I had, or some variant. It is important they know what type of tumor this is before any course of treatment starts. It is ok that your Radiation Doc is in charge at the moment as long as he is in agreement and you have gone over everything with your oncologist. I can't stress this enough that they know what type of tumor she has before they start treatment. Please let me know if you have any other questions.....I live right up the 101, about an hour and a half from you.

      over 4 years ago

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