Waiting for Biopsy Results

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If you have recently had a biopsy, the time spent waiting for your results can be nerve wracking. If the phrase, "We saw something" is familiar to you, working on your healthy coping habits until you follow up with your doctor can benefit your overall wellness. In this day and age waiting for anything is not easy, but there are steps you can take to relieve your anxiety in the interim. 

Don't Wait for the Call

Do not be surprised if you do not hear from your primary doctor.

The reading, processing, and faxing of your pathology results takes time for the report to reach your doctor's hands. Instead of passively waiting for a call, you be proactive and schedule a follow up appointment. Although most Hollywood shows portray it this way, you may not get your biopsy results over the phone. Your doctor might want to discuss your report with you face to face -- but this doesn't necessarily mean the results are "bad", just that he or she would like to share more education with you. 

If you haven't already done so, consider calling the physician who performed the test, which was most likely a colonoscopy, to remove polyps and complete the biopsy at the same time. There is nothing wrong with inquiring when you can expect results. The time frame varies greatly from facility to facility and the doctor can provide a more realistic time frame of when to expect results. 

Spend Time Waiting Wisely

You've had the test, it's over, now occupy your mind with other things.

It is too easy to sit thinking up worst case scenarios, Googling non-medically reviewed sites that could lend false information, or hearing horror stories from friends and coworkers who were ultimately diagnosed with colon cancer. The phrase, "Well, he hasn't called and it's been two weeks, so that's probably good" or "The doctor called and left a message, this must mean something bad," are common, but often, erroneous.

Don't read anything into calls, messages or emails from your doctor. Take a moment to return the correspondence, schedule a follow up appointment with the doctor that referred you for the biopsy, then stick it on your calendar and forget it.

Talk it Out

If you are having anxiety while waiting for results it may be beneficial to talk it out with someone you love or a close friend. If you haven't shared the fact that you had a biopsy with family and close friends, now might be the time to consider doing so. You will want to bring a family member or friend with you to the appointment when you receive your results -- good or bad -- for support. Keeping your fears a secret might harm relationships, but it definitely robs you of a line of support and communication to vent your fears.

Formulate a Plan

Sometimes, it can help to have a plan of action in place. For instance, if the biopsy did not show cancer --  the polyps were benign -- you might want to consider ways to reduce your risk of cancer in the future and initiate lifestyle changes to improve your health and wellness.

However, if the test comes back showing cancer, you can have a plan in place to begin by thoroughly researching all of the different treatment options so that your first conversation about treatment with your doctor will not sound so foreign.

Start Healthy Coping Habits Now

Learning healthy coping habits can help in all facets of your well being. Many physiological side effects can stem from an elevated stress level including heartburn, insomnia, and even difficulty concentrating. Instead of engaging in potentially dangerous coping habits, such as tobacco or alcohol use, consider these strategies:

  • Meditation or peaceful mindfulness
  • Prayer
  • Engaging in an activity you enjoy, such as knitting or working out

No matter what your biopsy results show, incorporating healthy coping habits and improving your health will ultimately improve your overall wellness for the future.


American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Testing Biopsy and Cytology Specimens for Cancer. Accessed online December 12, 2014.

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Pathology Reports. Accessed online December 12, 2014.

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