Biopsy, Breast (Breast Biopsy)


A breast biopsy is a simple medical procedure in which a sample of breast tissue is removed and sent to a laboratory. It can help determine if a lump in the breast is cancerous or non-cancerous.


A breast biopsy is typically performed to investigate a lump in the breast. Most breast lumps are non-cancerous. The doctors will mostly get a biopsy done if they have concerns about the results of a mammogram or breast ultrasound, or if a lump is found during a physical exam.

A biopsy may also be required  if there are changes in the nipple like bloody discharge, crusting, dimpling skin, scaling- as these are all typical symptoms of a breast tumour.


Before the breast biopsy, the doctor will conduct a breast examination. This could include:

  • A detailed physical examination
  • An ultrasound scan
  • Mammography (Mammogram)
  • An MRI scan

During one of these tests, the doctor may place a thin needle or wire into the area to easily detect the area. This is done under a local anaesthesia. 

Types of Breast Biopsies

  • Fine Needle Biopsy : surgeon inserts a small needle and syringe into the lump and extracts a sample.
  • Core Needle Biopsy: is similar to a fine needle biopsy. In this procedure, the Doctor uses a larger needle to collect several samples, each about the size of a rice grain.
  • Stereotactic Biopsy : The patient lies face down on an electrically powered table with a hole in it. The surgeon works underneath the table with the breast firmly placed between two plates. He or she will make a small incision and remove samples with a needle or a vacuum-powered probe.
  • MRI-Guided Core Needle Biopsy: an MRI machine will provide images that guide the surgeon to the lump while a small incision is made, and a sample is taken with a core needle.
  • Surgical Biopsy : involves the surgical removal of a breast mass that is sent to the laboratory where its edges are examined  to ensure the entire cancerous lump was removed. A metal marker may be left in  breast to monitor the area in the future.


Some of the risks include an altered appearance of your breast, depending on the size of the tissue removed, bruising, swelling, soreness or infection.

Though most of the above side effects are temporary and treatable, complications from a biopsy are rare while the benefits of having a potentially cancerous lump inspected timely far outweigh any risk related to the procedure.

After the Procedure

  1. In most cases patients are discharged the same day.
  2. The samples from the biopsy are sent to a laboratory for analysis
  3. The biopsy site needs to be taken care of by keeping it clean and changing dressing as advised by the Doctor.
  4. Please contact your doctor, in case symptoms prevail like:
    • over 100°F fever
    • redness and soreness  at the biopsy site
    • warmth at the biopsy site
    • discharge from the site

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