A) What is a breast biopsy?
A breast biopsy is a procedure that removes some breast tissue from a target area, so that it can be checked in a lab to see what the cause of the abnormality is—whether it is a benign disease or if there is presence of abnormal cells and cancer.
B) When would a person need a breast biopsy?
Commonly, breast biopsies are performed to diagnose various abnormalities that can present with or without symptoms. These include evaluations of:
-lumps that cannot be felt
-bloody nipple discharge
-microcalcifications or distortions seen on a mammogram
C) How is a breast biopsy done?
There are several breast biopsy techniques:
Open (surgical) breast biopsy refers to the surgery to remove an area of breast tissue in an operating room. Overall, the incision is generally longer than the minimally-invasive technique and removes larger amount of breast tissue.
Minimally-invasive breast biopsies include core biopsy and vacuum-assisted breast biopsy (VABB). These are performed with the use of a specialized needle that is inserted into the breast under real-time imaging guidance after the area is numbed with local anesthetic.
The biopsy is performed precisely at the target area of abnormality through a small (5 mm or less) incision. Depending on the abnormality, VABB may also be used to remove certain breast lump completely. Patients may also choose to have sedation during the procedure.