What is a Breast Biopsy?
A biopsy is a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope. A breast biopsy is a procedure in which samples of breast tissue are removed with a special biopsy needle or during surgery to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.
Biopsies may be performed under local or general anesthesia. There are several types of breast biopsy procedures. The type of biopsy performed will depend upon the location and size of the breast lump or abnormality.
Types of breast biopsy procedures include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fine needle aspiration biopsy: A very thin needle is placed into the lump or suspicious area to remove a small sample of fluid and/or tissue. No incision is necessary. A fine needle aspiration biopsy may be performed to help to differentiate a cyst from a lump.
- Core needle biopsy: A large needle is guided into a lump or suspicious area to remove a small cylinder of tissue (also called a core). No incision is necessary.
- Surgical biopsy (also called an open biopsy): A surgeon removed part of or all of a lump or suspicious area through an incision into the breast. There are two types of surgical biopsies During an incisional biopsy, a small part of the lump is removed; during an excisional biopsy, the entire lump is removed.