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Breast biopsy is performed to collect samples of tissue or cells from a suspicious lump or area in the breast. Image-guided biopsy is recommended for almost all cases of suspected breast cancer and is used to confirm the results of previous tests or when imaging techniques fail to yield decisive results. It is the only way to be sure whether an abnormality in the breast is cancerous or not. Statistically, 70%-80% of women who have a biopsy do not have cancer. In women found to have cancer, the information obtained from a biopsy can help physicians plan surgery and/or treatment.
There are four types of image-guided biopsy procedures used to collect breast tissue samples. The first three methods described below are minimally-invasive and performed under local anesthesia.
Florida Hospital uses three imaging technologies during biopsy to guide the needle or surgeon to the precise location of the potentially cancerous tumor, cell cluster or tissue mass:
Each of these imaging technologies has its advantages and limitations. Choosing the right one for any patient depends on the surgical procedure and location of the abnormality, the unique characteristics of the individual's breasts, her personal and family medical history, whether or not she's pregnant, known allergies and other considerations.
Breast biopsy, though generally minimally-invasive, carries risks associated with any procedure that penetrates the skin. They include:
Preparation for and a patient's experience during a biopsy depend on the type of biopsy performed and the imaging technique used to guide the procedure. The aftercare and cautions following breast biopsy generally apply regardless of the biopsy or imaging method used.
Avoid strenuous activity for at least 24 hours following the biopsy. Temporary bruising at the biopsy site is normal. If you experience swelling and bruising, you may be instructed to apply a cold pack to the site and take over-the-counter pain medication. Contact your doctor if you experience excessive swelling, bleeding or redness in the breast.
The lump or tissue samples removed during biopsy are sent to a pathology laboratory for analysis. A pathologist, a physician specially trained in diagnosing disease from tissue and cell samples, will examine your samples and create a report of his/her findings that will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will present the results and discuss them with you.