If you are facing cancer, the wait for a diagnosis can feel painfully long, and is often filled with fear and worry. One concern you might have is that the cancer may be growing quickly while you’re waiting. That’s why cancer test results are a top priority in the laboratories at Northwestern Medicine.
“We understand how important it is to provide a fast turnaround time so that patients don’t have to wait with fear and anxiety for their diagnoses,” said Wendy Ward, MD, a pathologist at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital, and pathologist and medical director of the laboratory at McHenry Pathology Associates.
The labs can also use special tests to determine how quickly a cancer is growing. “Sometimes cancer grows very quickly and sometimes it grows more slowly,” said Dr. Ward. One procedure commonly used by pathologists at Northwestern Medicine involves staining biopsy tissue for the Ki 67 protein and the observing it under a microscope. If the protein appears in a large number of cells (referred to as Ki67 positive), it’s an indication that the tumor is growing aggressively.
Learn more about cancer diagnosis and treatment at nm.org/cancer.