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Diagnosis of early breast cancer

For early breast cancer, the diagnosis is ‘invasive breast cancer’ or ‘invasive breast carcinoma’.

If the cancer is in the ducts of the breast, it’s called invasive ductal carcinoma. If cancer is in the lobules of the breast, it’s called invasive lobular carcinoma. If early breast cancer involves the nipple area, it’s called Paget’s disease of the nipple.

The pathology report

After a biopsy or breast surgery, the cells or tissue are sent to a pathologist. The pathologist looks at the cells or tissue under a microscope and writes the results in a pathology report. This will usually take a couple of days. Information in the pathology report helps with treatment planning.

Information in the pathology report is used to determine the stage of the breast cancer. The stages used to describe early breast cancer are Stage I, Stage IIA or Stage IIB (2–5cm).

Some women find it helpful to keep a copy of their pathology report so that they can refer to it later.

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