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Frequently Asked Questions

We receive and work on all tissues including bone which usually requires a period of decalcification. Tissues include but are not limited to;

  1. Core biopsies of breast, prostate, soft tissue tumours
  2. Excisions of lumps, bumps and whole organs such as kidney, breast, thyroid, prostate, eye etc
  3. Excision of fibroids, uterus, ovaries
  4. Amputated limbs
  5. Wedge biopsies of ulcer edges and excision of ulcers

We also receive cytological specimens such as

  1. Fluids from the chest, abdomen, joints and from fluid collections in lumps.
  2. Pap smears
  3. Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology Specimens (FNAC)
  1. The specimen container must be clearly labeled
  2. A well completed clearly filled request form with; patient details, diagnosis, operative findings, type of test to be done and finally requesting doctors name and phone number must accompany your specimen
  3. Tissue taken from the jaw or from other bony lesions must have attached x-rays
  4.  You must have the right amount of money to pay for the test.
  5. Demand a receipt
  6. You will be told when your result is likely to be ready and any changes in the time will be communicated to you.

A: All specimen must be submerged in an adequate amount of formalin. The accepted volume of formalin should be one (1) volume of tissue: ten (10) ‘tissue’ volumes of formalin. In the absence of that, at least the tissue must be submerged soon after being removed from the body. Tissue not in formalin rot and don’t yield optimal results.

A: Once your specimen is received at our facility, it is assigned a unique accession number which will identify it through the period when it is being worked on in the laboratory. The specimen is first described in the state in which it is received and then relevantly sampled to provide information important for patient treatment.

The specimen is then further fixed, dehydrated and then impregnated with wax which hardens the tissue well enough for it to be sectioned at a thickness of about 5 microns (this is thinner than paper and nearly transparent). The tissue section is then de-waxed, re-hydrated and stained. Once stained the tissue is dried and cover slipped. At this stage the slide is ready for reporting. The entire process of tissue processing, reporting, typing and editing takes on average 3 working days after which your report should be ready.

A: This depends on the size of the specimen submitted. Core biopsies and small biopsies are usually ready in a maximum of two (2) working days, but it is not uncommon for results of specimen received on Friday to be ready for collection on Monday. On average however, it takes five (5) working days for tissue to be processed and immunohistochemistry tests completed. Your report can be emailed to your physician and you can pick up your report or post it to you.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR REPORT

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA

These are your unique identifying information. Your name, age, gender, hospital number and a unique surgical pathology identification number which is found on the left upper outer corner. This number starts with PB / XXXX / YEAR. This ensures that no two patients even if they have the same name are mixed up. Accessioning starts the moment the patient submits a specimen to our laboratory.

CLINICAL DATA

This gives a history of your condition and the reason for requesting the histopathological test. In addition, it states the type and site where a sample was taken from and the procedure that was done with any relevant findings.

MACROSCOIC DESCRIPTION

This is a description of the specimen which was received at the laboratory. It documents the characteristics of every tissue that is received as a baseline for further microscopic examination. In addition, it documents how the specimen was sampled for processing. Finally, it lists the number of samples that are taken from each specimen, ensuring that adequate samples from relevant positions are taken and documented. These samples ultimately provide the information needed to make a diagnosis, type a tumor, grade a tumor and finally stage it when they are examined under the microscope.

 MICROSCOPIC DESCRIPTION

This is a description of the microscopic appearances of every specimen submitted to the histopathology laboratory. It forms the basis for rendering histopathological diagnosis. In addition, it describes criteria for grading, staging and determining the adequacy of excisions.

DIAGNOSIS

States the diagnosis as well us grade and stage of cancer if applicable.

ANCILLARY STUDIES

These include immunohistochemistry (IHC) and insitu hybridization (ISH). Holds information on any further tests done to determine prognosis or for drug therapy