A breast biopsy involves the removal of tissue or fluid from the breast so that the cells can be examined under a microscope and tested for the presence of Cancer. Although it is an invasive procedure there are breast biopsy benefits which self exam or mammogram do not have.
Breast Biopsy Benefits
Breast biopsy is the only way to detect breast malignancy. A pathologist will examine the breast tissue or fluid removed to see if there are breast cancer cells present within the sample. If it is determined that the cells are cancerous then the type of cancer cell is identified to determine the extent of the cancer. Only about 20% of breast biopsies are found to be positive for cancer in America as we have procedures on identifying cancer at early stages, so just because one has been ordered for you doesn’t mean the Doctor feels you will definitely have cancer.
How is a Breast Biopsy Carried Out?
There are three types of breast biopsy, one is carried out by a fine needle, the other a core needle, and the third is a surgery biopsy. What is the difference between the three types? And do you get to choose?
Your Doctor will determine which type of breast biopsy is required for you based on their examination findings and the type of tissue present.
A fine needle aspiration biopsy uses a very fine needle attached to a syringe which is used to withdraw fluid of small amounts of tissue from an area of the breast which is concerning. This is usually done when the lump is easy to access and the Doctor suspects the lump to be a fluid-filled cystic lump, which will be apparent if the lump subsides once fluid has been removed from it.
Core needle biopsy uses a larger hollow needle which removes a larger sample of breast tissue. Because of the size of the needle the patient is usually done under local anesthetic during the procedure, so the patient is awake but the area is numbed. Multiple samples will be removed during the extraction process possibly up to seven times. Ultrasound technology may be used by the specialist performing the procedure so they can see where the lumps and unusual cells are to extract tissue directly from them.
A surgical breast biopsy is carried out when the Doctor would like to remove a lump from the breast, so with a small incision will access the lump to remove it and some of the surrounding tissue so that both can be examined. Again this surgery is carried out under local anaesthetic and will result in stitches having to be put in and a scar remaining afterward. Therefore a surgical breast biopsy is usually only carried out when you and the Doctor are keen that the lump is removed and there are concerns that you may have cancer.
Results from all types of breast biopsies can take up to two weeks to be completed and reported back to your Doctor.