Breast Biopsy in Los Angeles

Jump to: Why Do It? | Risks | Expectations | Prepare | Types of Biopsy | Recovery | Consultations

What is a Breast Biopsy?

A breast biopsy is a useful diagnostic tool for determining whether a lump is a benign growth or a cancerous tumor. By taking a small tissue sample and analyzing it for signs of malignant cells, a physician can determine which course of treatment, if any, is appropriate.

Breast Biopsy Why Do I Need a Biopsy?

A doctor may recommend a biopsy if she detects an abnormality on a mammogram, or if she discovers a lump on a physical breast exam.

Calcifications frequently appear on a mammogram. Fortunately, most are benign. Every now and then, abnormal test results may indicate the early stages of breast cancer. Diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds, or MRIs are often used to rule out cancer, but, if they are inconclusive, a biopsy may be necessary.

What Are the Risks?

A breast biopsy procedure is relatively safe. However, like most medical procedures, it does present some risk. Potential complications include:

  • Breast biopsy pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Cosmetic issues (depending on the amount of tissue removed and the ability of your body to heal)

What to Expect

Usually performed by a radiologist, a biopsy is done using either ultrasound or mammography to target the abnormal spot. The suspicious tissue is then examined under a microscope by a pathologist who checks for cancer cells and makes the diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Biopsy How to Prepare for a Breast Cancer B iopsy

Tell your healthcare professional if you:

  • Are or may be pregnant
  • Have any allergies
  • Are on any medication (including aspirin and blood-thinning drugs)
  • Have taken any medication recently (including aspirin or other anticoagulants)
  • Have a cardiac pacemaker
  • Have another type of electronic implant
  • Are unable to lie face-down on your abdomen for any length of time

Types of Biopsy

There are a number of different types of biopsy that can be used to test for breast cancer. They include:

  • Breast needle biopsy: A relatively non-invasive method, this procedure involves the use of a needle to remove tissue or cell samples. Needle biopsies can be further broken down into two categories:
    • Fine needle aspiration: The most common and least invasive procedure, this method relies on a small needle to remove cells. Typically, a doctor will recommend a fine needle biopsy when they can feel a lump during a physical exam.
    • Core needle biopsy: This procedure involves the use a hollow needle to collect breast tissue samples from a breast lump that’s visible on a mammogram or ultrasound.
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy: When performing this procedure, a nurse or technician will use a mammogram to guide the biopsy needle to areas where abnormal growth appears.
  • Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy: This type of biopsy is similar to a stereotactic breast biopsy, except that it uses ultrasound imaging instead of mammogram technology.
  • Surgical breast biopsy: A more accurate yet more invasive method for collecting breast tissue, this procedure is used to remove a relatively large mass of tissue. In some cases, the entire breast mass is removed. Most patients will be sedated and given local anesthetic. If the operation succeeds in removing all of the cancerous cells, even at the margins, then no further treatment may be needed. If there are still signs of cancer at the margins, then you may have to schedule another surgery.


Breast biopsy recovery depends on the type of procedure performed. Core needle biopsies often involve a little bruising and some minor pain. Take a non-aspirin pain reliever and apply an ice pack reliever if you experience discomfort. Surgical biopsies, which involve stitches, typically require a longer recovery. Most patients go home the same day, regardless of the type of biopsy.

What Next?

If your breast biopsy results ruled out cancer, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. If the test revealed cancerous cells, don’t panic. Your doctor will recommend an immediate course of action. Advances in cancer treatment have improved the prognosis and made the disease beatable, particularly when it is detected early. These days, patients who aggressively attack early stage cancers have a high survival rate.

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