A "negative" biopsy means that no abnormal cells were present in the examined tissue or cell sample. A "positive biopsy" means that abnormal cells are present in the examined tissue or cell sample. Abnormal results are helpful in identifying:
- infectious processes: the infectious agent may be seen, or changes to the cells which are caused (characteristic) of certain infection or disease may indicate the infectious agent is present
- benign (non-cancerous) conditions: some characteristic cell changes may be present, indicating the presence of a benign growth or process.
- Malignant: abnormal cells representing cancer. The pathologist can usually determine the organ of origin of the cancer cells and therefore can often determine whether a tumor is primary (from the organ being biopsied) or metastatic (tumor has spread to the organ being biopsied)
Updated: August 15, 2007