loading... close

Diagnosis

 
Diagnosis

Chapter: 4 - Diagnosis

Subchapter: 4 - Biopsy

A biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which cells are removed from a suspicious area to check for the presence of breast cancer. There are three types of biopsy: fine needle aspiration, core needle biopsy, and surgical biopsy.

Let’s discuss the different types in greater detail.

Fine Needle Aspiration
(FNA)/Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNABx)

If the lump is easily accessible, or if the doctor suspects that it may be a fluid-filled cystic lump, the doctor may choose to conduct a fine needle aspiration (FNA). During this procedure, the lump should collapse once the fluid inside has been drawn and discarded. Sometimes, an ultrasound is used to help your doctor guide the needle to the exact site. If the lump persists, the radiologist or surgeon will perform a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNABx), a similar procedure using the needle to obtain cells from the lump for examination.

Core Needle Biopsy
Core needle biopsy is the procedure to remove a small amount of tissue from the breasts with a larger “core” needle. Similar to fine needle aspiration, an ultrasound might be used to help your doctor guide the needle to the exact site. Once removed, the suspicious area tissue will be examined for traces of cancer.

Surgical Biopsy
(also known as wide local excision)
During a surgical (or wide local excision) biopsy, the doctor will remove all or part of the lump from the breast as well as a small amount of normal-looking tissue. This procedure is often performed in a hospital with the patient under local anesthesia. If the lump cannot be easily felt, an ultrasound might be used to help guide your doctor to the suspicious area. Once removed, the abnormal tissue will be examined for traces of cancer. The surrounding margin, or small amount of normal–looking tissue, will be examined to determine if the cancer has been completely removed.

Many times after core and surgical biopsies, a marker is placed internally at the biopsy site. This is done so that if further surgery is required, the surgeon can more easily locate the abnormal area.

Related Questions

  • Christine Horne  Profile

    I have. Just been diagnosed my doctor is recommending a mastectomy and I am very confused not sure what to do?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Christine, when I heard those words, "You have breast cancer" I thought it was the end of my life. It is devastating to every woman who gets that awful news. I think you are missing some important pieces of the diagnosis and only heard a couple of things... cancer and mastectomy. You are...

      more

      Christine, when I heard those words, "You have breast cancer" I thought it was the end of my life. It is devastating to every woman who gets that awful news. I think you are missing some important pieces of the diagnosis and only heard a couple of things... cancer and mastectomy. You are probably in a bit of feeling of shock and we all understand where you are at right now. As Brandi has said, you need to take someone with you who can take notes for you or record what is said at your appointment. Some facts you need: What type of breast cancer do I have? What is the stage, grade, and the hormone status. What treatment is needed? What additional testing will I need before I start treatment? CAT Scan, PET Scan? Bone Scan? MUGA, MRI? Do you think lymph nodes are involved? Will I need BRCA genetic testing? (done if you have mom, grandmother, sisters with breast cancer) Will I need chemotherapy and/or radiation, and hormone therapy? These are some important question you need to ask and have answered. Every breast cancer is a little bit different and thankfully, your treatment will be tailor made just for you. We have either been through treatment or are going through it. I would be very selective what you read on the internet, it can scare you terribly, and may be out of date or not be related to your cancer. We are here to help you through this. We aren't doctors but we can share our experiences with you. Collectively, we have been through it all and are here to do what we can for you. Please hang out with us, you will make it. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Brandi Mixon Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      First things first! Sit down, take a deep breath, try to relax! This is scary and yes you feel like you have to rush your decision. Take a little bit of time and study all your options. There are a lot of them out there. Any question you think of, write it down so you'll have it when you go back...

      more

      First things first! Sit down, take a deep breath, try to relax! This is scary and yes you feel like you have to rush your decision. Take a little bit of time and study all your options. There are a lot of them out there. Any question you think of, write it down so you'll have it when you go back to the doctor. No matter how silly or insignificant you think the question is, write it down and ask it. You need to do research but don't go to too many web sites, not all are reliable! The American Cancer Society site is the best that I found. There is also the American Breast Cancer Foundation. Talk to your family, honestly! When you go back to the doctor take someone you trust with you. If possible record your conversation so you can go back and listen to it before you make your decision! You're at the right place. Just remember, we are not doctors, just women like you that have heard those same four words "It is breast cancer." That's where everyone's journey starts! God bless you!!!

      Comment
  • Teri Cochran Profile

    I had a a mastectomy 8 days ago. My drains are still in but should be coming out soon. My question is, how long before the take the stitches out and I can stop wearing the wrap around my chest? I think at this point it's the most uncomfortable.

    Asked by anonymous

    Patient
    about 4 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had the wrap for 1 week

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Teri, I would call the surgeon's office and tell them how uncomfortable you are wearing that band. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I had a second surgery as they didn't get clear margins the first time. So far I am stage 2a grade 3 2 lymph nodes involved. Is that bad? Still draining so can't get chemo yet.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    over 7 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Breast cancer IS just plain bad! I was 2A and after my surgery was downgraded to a 2B because I had one lymph node positive. It is better if you don't have any lymph node involvement but you deal with what you have. Not knowing any more about your breast cancer except stage and grade,(type) 2A...

      more

      Breast cancer IS just plain bad! I was 2A and after my surgery was downgraded to a 2B because I had one lymph node positive. It is better if you don't have any lymph node involvement but you deal with what you have. Not knowing any more about your breast cancer except stage and grade,(type) 2A has you far from the end of your rope. Your surgeon and/or oncologist will go over all of your tests before you go on to the next part of your treatment. You are at a very treatable stage so you will be ok. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I had lumpectomy then a second to clean up margins by the everything was done I was stage III ER no nodes. Mentally and emotionaly I was a wreck. I'm not a stupid person but I just get my head wrapped around everything. Everyday more life changing decisions to make. I had to make decisions about...

      more

      I had lumpectomy then a second to clean up margins by the everything was done I was stage III ER no nodes. Mentally and emotionaly I was a wreck. I'm not a stupid person but I just get my head wrapped around everything. Everyday more life changing decisions to make. I had to make decisions about issues I didn't think I had full understanding. Looking back I think it was denial. Breast cancer is a very bumpy road and so indivdual I finely figured out to trust my doctors/nurses/trusted and my good judgement.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Should I not have surgery because I am 89 years old? I have a lump in my breast, but have not been diagnosed.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      As the patient.... you have an absolute right to choose whether you want surgery or not. On the other hand, there isn't a reason why you shouldn't have surgery, if that is what you want to do. Plenty of mature folks have surgery all the time for whatever needs to be corrected. Usually women...

      more

      As the patient.... you have an absolute right to choose whether you want surgery or not. On the other hand, there isn't a reason why you shouldn't have surgery, if that is what you want to do. Plenty of mature folks have surgery all the time for whatever needs to be corrected. Usually women have a choice to have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Who knows.... you could live to be 120!!!!! Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Elaine Mills Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      A lot depends on your health. Some doctors will do all they can to keep an elderly person from undergoing anesthesia. My oncologist told me that if we live long enough, ALL of us women get breast cancer. Please see your gynocologist and see what they say!

      Comment

Educational Video

Personal Story

Related Topics

Looking for another topic?
Use the search box in the top right.

Footer 3

Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.

spread the word