If a breast lesion has been detected, a breast biopsy may be required to determine its cause.

What is a Breast Biopsy?

Breast biopsy | breast biopsiesA breast biopsy is a medical procedure that extracts a tiny sample of breast tissue from the body for the purpose of testing. A breast biopsy may be performed in women who have detected a lump during physical examination, or in women whose screening mammography revealed a potential lesion. There are several different types of breast biopsy.

Why are Breast Biopsies Performed?

Breast imaging procedures help patients and their physicians detect potential abnormalities in breast tissue. Breast imaging procedures can also help physicians rule out cancer in some women who have detected a potential abnormality. However, a breast biopsy is required for physicians to make a conclusive breast cancer diagnosis.

Different types of breast biopsies are performed for different reasons. If a woman’s physician recommends a biopsy, she should ask why.

What to Expect From a Breast Biopsy

Breast biopsy | breast biopsy procedureBreast biopsy experiences will vary based on the type of biopsy being performed. Image-guided biopsies use medical imaging technologies during the process to help physicians locate problem areas. The type of breast biopsy a physician recommends will depend on a patient’s specific circumstances, such as the location and size of a lesion in her breast.

The different types of breast biopsy include:

Fine Needle Aspiration Breast Biopsy

In a fine needle aspiration breast biopsy procedure, an extremely thin needle attached to a syringe is used to extract a small amount of cells from a woman’s breast tissue. Fine needle aspiration biopsy is an effective method for distinguishing solid masses from fluid-filled cysts. It can also be used to drain a painful benign cyst, if a patient desires.

Core Needle Breast Biopsy

Core needle biopsy uses a thin, hollow needle to extract tissue samples from the breast tissue. Prior to core needle biopsy, anesthesia will be injected into the target area. This numbs the breast of the woman being biopsied to prevent pain, but allows her to remain awake and alert during the procedure. Between two and six samples are extracted and each is approximately the size of a grain of rice.

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

Stereotactic biopsy uses mammography during core biopsy to help a radiologist determine the exact location of the concern within a breast to be biopsied.

Ultrasound-guided Breast Biopsy

Ultrasound may be used during fine needle aspiration biopsy or core needle biopsy to help a radiologist determine the exact location of the mass within a breast to be examined.

MRI-guided Breast Biopsy

MRI may be used during a core biopsy to help a radiologist determine the exact location of the mass within a breast to be biopsied. This is used for concerns seen only on a MRI.

Surgical Breast Biopsy

If physicians are unable to determine the exact nature of a breast abnormality using needle biopsy, surgical biopsy may be required. There are two types of surgical biopsies: incisional and excisional.

During incisional biopsy, surgeons remove just enough of a suspicious area to make a diagnosis. During excisional biopsy, surgeons attempt to remove all of the suspicious area. Surgical biopsies require either local or general anesthesia, often require stitches and may cause scarring.

More Breast Biopsy Information from Breastlink

Breastlink radiologists and surgical oncologists specialize specifically in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer to ensure our breast cancer patients receive care tailored to them.

If you are a woman who needs a breast biopsy, or if you just want more information on your risk for breast cancer, contact us online and we will get back to you within one business day to schedule your appointment.

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