Waiting for the biopsy result is as stressful as being told you have cancer

Doctors should realize the stress that patients undergo while waiting for test results.

Surgeon Jeffrey Parks discusses a recent study examining the issue, showing that a woman’s “stress hormone levels were just as high during the waiting period as levels determined in women who were told the biopsy was positive for cancer.”

A needle breast biopsy should not take longer than two days for a result, although it make take longer for lumpectomies or axillary node dissections. In any case, patients are often waiting anxiously by the phone for news, and doctors do a significant disservice if they sit on the results.

From a patient’s standpoint, I would not hesitate to ask when results should be expected, and if that deadline passes, calling your doctor to follow-up on the test.

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