By Marshalee George, Kimlin Tam Ashing

After your biopsy, you can expect to wait for one to seven days to receive the results. The amount of time varies depending on several factors. The method of informing patients of their biopsy results also varies. With some medical centers, the radiologist or surgeon calls the patient directly. Others may send the results to the gynecologist or primary care physician, who then contacts the patient to discuss the results. And some medical centers mail the results to the patient.

Regardless of who the messenger is and in what form the message arrives, the results can be a source of relief or grief.

If you have a preference for how you’re contacted and by whom, tell someone in charge of such things at the medical center. Most people (women and men alike) prefer to receive good news as soon as possible and welcome the opportunity to receive the good news over the phone. Many of these same people, however, would rather receive bad news (results that show cancer) in person from their doctor, who can explain the results and discuss next steps.

Always request a copy of the biopsy report so you can keep it in your medical file. Having a copy of your report avoids delays in obtaining a copy in the future if another doctor needs to look at it or if you need to refer to the results later or share the results with family members.