Breast Biopsy

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Sometimes the radiology tests (mammogram, ultrasound) do not give sufficient information for evaluating the patient's situation and determining an the appropriate treatment option. In this case a breast biopsy test usually follows. Breast biopsy involves removing a sample of either cells or fluid from a breast lump, usually using a needle. The test is carried out in either the breast clinic or in the x-ray department. Breast biopsy is an out-patient procedure which means you can go home as soon as the test is completed. A local anaesthetic is used which will give you a stinging sensation, then the area will feel numb.

What happens when breast biopsy is performed?

The doctor will use a specially designed instrument, which includes a biopsy needle. Only the end of the needle is used. The doctor usually takes about three small samples form the same area. These small samples of tissue are sent to the laboratory for analysis under the microscope. Afterwards, a nurse or the doctor, will press quite firmly over the area, and a small dressing will be placed over it. The area may be a little sore when the local anaesthetic wears off. If so you can use your usual pain relief (e.g. paracetamol), in the recommended dose. You might get a bruise around the sample site which will disappear in a few days.

When will I get the results?

The laboratory tests usually take about a week, but they may sometimes take a little longer. The doctor will arrange to see you again to give you the results of the tests.

There are various techniques of biopsy:

Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.


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