A breast biopsy is a procedure to remove abnormal breast tissue or a mass. The procedure is done to determine if an area is breast cancer. There are several different types of breast biopsies. The tissue that is removed is then evaluated to determine if any other surgery or follow-up will be needed. Many lumps or abnormal areas are not cancer.
Why do we do Breast Biopsies?
Your surgeon may recommend a breast biopsy if you have a lump on your exam, you have a suspicious mammogram or ultrasound or MRI, or if you have changes to the skin or nipple of your breast.
How are the Biopsies Done?
The goal of a surgical biopsy is to remove the entire abnormal area (excisional biopsy) or to remove a portion of a mass (incisional biopsy). This is usually done under anesthesia by vein as well as local anesthetic to ensure patient comfort. Mostly they can be performed as a same day surgery. There is a scar on the breast afterwards but everything possible is done to ensure a good cosmetic appearance afterwards. The appearance of the breast usually is not affected.
Many times the radiologists will perform a needle biopsy and place a clip prior to surgery. If the breast mass cannot be felt, the radiologist will place a thin wire to allow your surgeon to use this as a road map to remove only the area in question. This is done right before surgery and is removed along with the clip and mass that same day. The area is then checked in the operating room by both your surgeon and your radiologist to ensure the area has been removed. The tissue is then sent to pathology. You should get your results in 2-3 business days.
What are the Risks of a Biopsy?
Risks of this procedure are rare. They include bleeding, infection, swelling of the breast, further surgery or other treatment based on biopsy results and possibly altering appearance of the breast.