A breast biopsy is a procedure that includes removal of a small sample tissue of the breast. It is generally performed in order to confirm or rule out malignant tumor of the breast. There are several types of breast biopsy and after each of them the sample is sent for pathohistological examination. Only after that a definitive diagnosis can be confirmed.
Why is Breast Biopsy Performed?
The goal of breast biopsy is to determine whether or not a lump previously detected with certain imaging method such as mammography, ultrasound or MRI is malignant i.e. whether the person is suffering from breast cancer. Furthermore, apart from confirming the disease pathohistological examination provides with all the specific details regarding biopted tissue (type of cells and additional components).
The doctor may recommend breast biopsy in several cases. First of all, the procedure is done in women in whom the doctor palpates a lump or thickening in the breast and suspects she has a breast cancer. Breast biopsy is always performed if mammogram points to a suspicious change in the breast and in case an ultrasound reveals a suspicious area. And finally, this type of biopsy is performed in women with unusual nipple changes such as crusting, scaling, dimpling skin or bloody discharge.
What are Types of Breast Biopsy?
Fine-needle aspiration biopsy is the simplest type and is generally performed in case of a lump palpated during a clinical breast exam. The needle is inserted directly into the lump and a sample or cells or fluid collected. In case during fine-needle aspiration no fluid can be withdrawn and the mass does not withdraw spontaneously a woman must undergo additional tests and examinations including mammogram and maybe even a surgery.
Core needle biopsy is done once the lump is detected on a mammogram or ultrasound. The procedure includes insertion of a thin and hollow needle. Several samples of approximately size of a grain of rice are taken and sent for pathohistological examination.
Stereotactic biopsy is performed with the assistance of mammograms which pinpoint the very location of the lump. After making a small incision a well-experienced doctor inserts a needle or a vacuum-powered probe and takes several samples of tissue.
Ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy is actually the same process as core biopsy but in this case the very location of the suspicious tissue is first located with the assistance of ultrasound and then the doctor performs the very biopsy. Similarly to ultrasound-guided biopsy in case of MRI-guided biopsy the entire procedure is performed with the assistance of MRI. This imaging technique perfectly visualizes the lump and allows the doctor to be completely precise when it comes to taking samples of a suspicious growth of the breast.
And finally, there is one more type of breast biopsy - surgical biopsy. It is basically performed in an operating room and part or the entire lump is removed and sent for pathohistological examination.