Breast Biopsy

If you have found a lump in one of your breasts and your doctor finds it to be suspicious, s/he will recommend that you have a breast biopsy done to determine what the lump or mass is. There are different types of biopsy procedures, and your doctor may choose to have a certain one performed based on the location or other characteristics of the lump. For many biopsies, a local injection will be given in the breast to help numb the area before a biopsy is done.

*Core needle biopsy. For this, a radiologist or surgeon will use a thin, hollow needle to remove samples from the mass or lump in the breast. Most often, the surgeon or radiologist will use an ultrasound machine to help guide the needle to the correct tissue. Several samples will be collected and analyzed to determine whether any disease cells are found.

*Fine-needle aspiration biopsy. This procedure is a simple biopsy during which the doctor will hold the lump or mass steady with one hand and will use the other hand to direct a fine needle to obtain a blood or tissue sample from the mass. The needle is attached to a syringe that collects the sample of cells or tissue. A fine-needle biopsy is a quick way to determine if the mass is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass. If the mass is solid, it will need further evaluation from a different biopsy procedure.

*Stereotactic biopsy. For this procedure, a woman will lie face down on a padded table with one breast positioned into a hole in the table. The breast will be firmly compressed between two mammogram plates to show the radiologist the exact position of the lump or mass in question. A small incision will be made into the breast, and then a needle or vacuum-powered probe will be inserted to remove several samples of tissue. These tissues will be sent off for analysis.

*Surgical biopsy. The most invasive type of biopsy is a surgical biopsy. This type of biopsy requires the removal of the mass or entire the breast. This type of biopsy is done under sedation. Typical of a surgical biopsy, the recovery will be longer than any other biopsy. Stitches will need to be cared for, and the healing process will be just like any other surgery.

It will take a few days for your doctor to have the results from your breast biopsy. The samples removed will need to be evaluated by a pathologist using a microscope and other specific procedures. Once your doctor receives the results from the pathologist, s/he will share them with you. If the results come back that breast cancer is present, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan that is specific to your case.

Posted on behalf of Diagnostic Radiology