For more information, visit CancerQuest at A video-animation presentation about breast biopsies. Both fine …

A biopsy is the removal the sample
tissue from a suspicious
area and is especially powerful in the
diagnosis of breast cancer.
Its used when a mammogram or other
imaging techniques reveal an abnormality
or when a patient or health care
provider finds a breast lump
After the tissue is removed it is sent
to a pathologist
who examines it and determines whether or
not the sample contains cancerous cells
biopsy samples may also be used in disease
and treatment design
the types of biopsies
are either a fine needle aspiration
or a core needle biopsy or an excision
A fine needle aspiration can be used if
a mass
is discreetly palpable
if you can really feel a mass
and the mammogram or ultra sound is very
and the clinical exam is suspicious so
you always have to have that triple test
the three all lining up
in order to use a fine needle
The fine needle aspiration and core needle
biopsy procedures are very similar
On the day of the exam no special
preparation is necessary
when you arrive at your doctor's office
the area to be biopsied is prepared by
cleaning and sterilization
A fine needle aspiration is generally
done without the use of local anesthetic
the size of the needle use for an FNA
is smaller than the needle used to
inject an anesthetic
The doctor inserts the needle targeting
the center the lesion
When the target is reached a very small
pieces removed by suction
this procedure is repeated two to four
times to ensure that a large enough
sample is obtained

If the lesion cannot be felt the doctor
may use an ultrasound
other imaging technique to help guide
the needle more accurately into the
suspicious area
A final aspiration actually
removes cells from that tumor and the
pathologist can instantaneously look
underneath the slides
to make the diagnosis so the advantage
is that we can get the diagnosis
very quickly
A core needle biopsy
is similar to a fine needle aspiration
except that a larger
11 to 18 gauge needle is used
In contrast to an FNA, a core needle biopsy
generally does employ the injection of a
local anesthetic over the area to be
During a core needle biopsy, a small nick is made
in the skin
and the doctor then inserts needle through this nick
At least three samples
are taken from
each suspicious area to ensure that an
adequate amount of tissue
is obtained
In most cases, an imaging techniques such as
ultrasound is used to help guide the
needle into the desired tissue
Steri-strips are used to close
the small cut
and a larger bandage is placed on top
to protect the wound
A core needle biopsy can also be done
in an office
or in a breast imaging suite
and this is taking larger samples of
tissue from the tumor
either by palpating and by feeling and
putting the needle into the tumor
or by using mammography or ultrasound to
find the tumor and so that the
needle is placed directly into the
proper location
and this, a core needle biopsy removes
actually chunks of tissue
where the breast Parenchyma
the breast
cells in the structure of the breast
tissue can be analyzed and we can
definitively say
is it invasive or is it non-invasive
Occasionally we have to use excision
biopsy and those are situations where
either the needle can't collect enough
tissue or we've collected some tissue
with the needle
either a fine needle aspiration or core
and there are atypical cells that we have to
take more tissue
and in that case we have to perform an
excision biopsy
the advantages are performing a fine
needle or core biopsy is that there's a
very very small
mark or an incision in the breast
and so instead of having a large
incision for an excisional biopsy
there's just a little punctate area on
the breast
that you will not really see over time
In terms of any pain control,
generally patients do not need any pain
medications after the procedure
If they develop problems they should
certainly contact their physician
For more information on breast cancer
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