If the results of your latest mammogram show an abnormal result, your primary doctor will want a follow up testing to learn the cause of the abnormal result. In some cases, the abnormal result can be a false positive for signs of cancer and the additional testing can determine if there is or is not a need for a biopsy. The typical reasons for a biopsy are: if there is an abnormal change in the shape of your breasts, you have discovered a lump, you have unexplained discharge or bleeding from your nipples, or there is the possibility of a tumor in the breast area. While the majority of biopsies are benign, the survival rate for early detection of breast cancer is high.
Types of Breast Biopsies
Fine Needle Biopsy:
A fine needle biopsy is only performed on palpable masses, lumps, which can be felt. The procedure can be performed in the surgeon’s office or in an outpatient clinic. Before the biopsy, your surgeon will use a local anesthetic to numb the area. A fine, thin needle is inserted into the biopsy area and a small sample of tissue cells is removed for analysis. The process can be completed in less than 20 minutes. A bandage will be placed over the incision site.
Core Needle Biopsy:
A core needle biopsy is performed on palpable masses, lumps, and on non-palpable areas that can only be seen on imaging tests. For palpable masses, the process can be done in the surgeon’s office. For non-palpable masses, the process is done in a hospital or outpatient clinic. Before the biopsy, your surgeon will use a local anesthetic to numb the breast and surrounding area. Your surgeon will make a small incision and insert a hollow needle in the biopsy area to remove sample tissues to be analyzed by a pathologist. The process can be completed in less than an hour. A bandage will be placed over the incision site.
There are two types of surgical breast biopsies: incisional and excisional. An incisional biopsy removes only a portion of the tumor and is rarely performed today. Nearly all surgical breast biopsies are excisional, where the entire abnormal area and some of the normal adjoining tissue are removed. The procedure is performed as follows: