A biopsy is used to detect and diagnosis breast cancer and breast disease by removing a cells from a suspicious area and examining them in a lab to see if disease is present.
Needing a biopsy does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. Many biopsies do not result in a cancer diagnosis.
During a core biopsy, a hollow needle is inserted into the lesion to remove a sample of breast tissue for analysis under a microscope. Several samples may be taken at the same time. Since tissue is taken rather than cells, it gives more detailed information than some other types of biopsies.
Vacuum assisted biopsy
Sometimes the suspicious area is difficult to target or a previous biopsy may not have provided a definite result. When this occurs, more breast tissue is needed for a proper diagnosis, and a vacuum assisted biopsy is often done. A small incision is made in the skin after local anesthesia is given. A hollow probe, connected to a vacuum device, is inserted through the incision. Using ultrasound or mammography to guide the procedure, the vacuum sucks breast tissue into a collecting chamber, allowing collection of several tissue samples without removing the probe.
Fine needle aspiration
A fine needle aspiration takes one or more samples of breast cells using a thin needle with a hollow center to remove cells from the suspicious area. This is the least invasive type of biopsy, and usually there is no scarring. Local anesthesia may be given.
Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy
An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy utilizes sound waves to locate the breast abnormality and remove a tissue sample for microscopic examination. This procedure is less invasive than a surgical biopsy, leaving little to no scarring. It does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation. Ultrasound guidance may be used in various biopsy procedures, including core biopsy, vacuum assisted biopsy and fine needle aspiration.
Stereotactic breast biopsy
In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine uses low dose x-rays to help locate the breast abnormality and then guide the physician’s biopsy equipment to the site. A tissue sample is then removed for microscopic examination. The procedure is less invasive than surgical biopsy and there is little or no scarring. It is very effective in evaluating calcium deposits or tiny masses that are not visible with ultrasound.