Question about pathology reports

I don’t have 100% confidence in the things I hear from my urologist’s front office these days for a variety of reasons, but I wanted to ask about something I was told today.

Today marks a week since my orchiectomy, and I called to see if there was any news on when we might get the pathology results back. I was told that my results were still “preliminary” and that the specimen in question was being analyzed by two different facilities. When I expressed surprise, I was told (again, by the front desk person) that this is common and doesn’t indicate anything unusual about my specimen.

Does anyone either on the patient or doctor side have any knowledge or personal experience that suggests this is true? I have read that sometimes pathologists seek a second opinion, but I hadn’t heard that analysis might be going on at two entirely different facilities at the same time. What would the reason be for this? And would this mean that I need to wait for the two different pathologists to confer with one another and agree upon a single report? Or might there be two different reports coming?

I realize that responses may be speculation, but I appreciate any thoughts on this. And I especially appreciate personal anecdotes.

It also took more than a week for me to get the unfortunate results of my breast biopsy back. There are some aspects of it that take a while to process; I’ll leave further details to the physicians on this board.

Pathologist here.

It sounds like either your pathologist ordered a test that’s only available at an outside facility, or they sent the case out for expert consultation.

We do either on occasion. An outside consult may be requested if there’s an unusual finding leading to disagreement about a diagnosis within our group, or if there’s a test (like an immunostain) that we don’t have available and it makes sense to send the case to a lab that offers it and can review the tissue pathology at the same time.

Once the diagnosis is made (the outside pathologist generally telephones us to pass it along and answer any questions), the pathologist who referred the case typically signs it out according to the outside doc’s diagnosis, assuming (s)he has confidence in the outside group’s expert and the diagnosis fits the clinical picture and what the local pathologist has already seen.

Based on my experience, most outside consults take a few days, depending on what special tests need to be done. From the patient’s standpoint it can take longer to get the diagnosis, depending how on the ball the clinician’s office staff is when it comes to notifying the clinician and patient.

That’s really useful, Jackmannii—thanks so much!