Pathology dictionary

Positive for malignancy

What does positive for malignancy mean?

Positive for malignancy means that cancer cells were seen when the tissue sample was examined under the microscope. Pathologists use the word malignant to describe cancers.

This result does not, however, say what kind of cancer cells were seen although this information may be found in another part of the report. Common types of cancer include carcinoma, lymphoma, melanoma, and sarcoma.

This result also does not say whether the cancer cells started in that location or whether they traveled there from another part of the body. Cancer cells that travel from the main tumour to another part of the body are called a metastasis.

This result is typically used when only a small sample of tissue is sent for examination under the microscope. This kind of sample could be a biopsy, fine needle aspiration, or Pap smear.

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