A biopsy is a diagnostic procedure used to examine suspicious tissue in the breast. It can be performed by inserting a needle through the skin to remove a tissue sample or through a minor surgical procedure to remove some or all of the suspicious tissue. Biopsies are ordered when doctors notice anything unusual in the breast, such as a palpable lump, fluid-filled masses, or nipple problems like bloody discharge. The tissue sample is then examined by a pathologist to determine the presence of cancer cells and provide a detailed report of their findings, guiding further treatment decisions.
Different Biopsy Techniques:
- Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAC): A thin needle with a hollow center is used to remove a sample of cells from the suspicious area. Ultrasound-guided biopsy may be necessary when the lump cannot be felt directly.
- Core Needle Biopsy: A larger hollow needle is used to remove multiple cylinder-shaped tissue samples after numbing the breast with local anesthesia. This technique typically does not leave a scar.
- Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy: A special probe is inserted once to remove more tissue than core needle biopsy. It offers the advantage of requiring fewer insertions through the skin.
- Incisional Biopsy: Similar to regular surgery, a scalpel is used to cut through the skin and remove a piece of tissue. It may be recommended when needle biopsy results are inconclusive or for sampling larger suspicious areas.
- Excisional Biopsy: The entire area of suspicious tissue, including a margin of normal tissue, is surgically removed. It is the most involved form of biopsy and requires more recovery time.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy:
Side Effects and Risks:
Breast biopsies are generally safe, but some risks and side effects may occur, including bruising, swelling, mild pain, bleeding, infection, and changes in breast appearance. Prescription or over-the-counter pain relief may be provided, and the biopsy site may have temporary discoloration. It is important to contact the doctor if issues like fever, worsening pain, severe redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage arise.
Breast Biopsy Results:
The pathologist takes several days to examine the biopsy sample and prepare a report. The results are then discussed with the doctor who ordered the biopsy. If the tissue is found to be normal or benign, further evaluation may still be needed if suspicions persist. In cases where breast cancer is diagnosed, the pathologist’s report provides important details about the tumor, aiding the doctor in recommending an appropriate treatment plan.