What is a Breast Biopsy?
What Is A Breast Biopsy?
Many women who find a lump in their breast will be scheduled for a breast biopsy. The procedure entails a sample of breast tissue being removed from the breast and analyzed to determine whether it is cancerous. A biopsy is the only way that a diagnosis of breast cancer can be confirmed. The tissue is sent to a pathologist, who will examine the tissue under a microscope in search of cancerous cells.
The majority of biopsies (65%-80%) are found to be non-cancerous.
There are various types of biopsies that can be performed: core needle biopsy, fine needle aspiration, large core surgical, open surgical or vacuum-assisted biopsy. The type of biopsy performed depends on the size, location and shape of the area; the medical history and preference of the patient; and the surgeon who will perform the biopsy. Sometimes in order to preform a biopsy the surgeon must conduct a wire localization. This is done before the biopsy if the lesion cannot be felt. Under local anesthesia, an x-ray is used to guide a wire about the size of a strand of hair to the suspicious spot. This, in turn, guides the surgeon during the biopsy. Because of the x-ray used, this does expose the breast to some radiation.
Many women are concerned about the pain associated with a breast biopsy, while every woman has a different idea of what pain is and each has a different tolerance level to pain, most women report feeling "slight discomfort" rather than pain. The procedure is very short, and you could be back to your normal activities within a day or, sometimes, even within a few hours. If you have a lumpectomy, you will have some additional swelling and discomfort when the anesthesia wears off.