What Is A Breast Biopsy?

A breast biopsy is a test that removes tissue or sometimes fluid from the suspicious area. The removed cells are examined under a microscope and further tested to check for the presence of breast cancer. A biopsy is the only diagnostic procedure that can definitely determine if the suspicious area is cancerous.

The good news is that 80% of women who have a breast biopsy do not have breast cancer.

There are three types of biopsies:

  • Fine-needle aspiration
  • Core-needle biopsy
  • Surgical biopsy

There are several factors that help the breast surgeon decide which type of biopsy to recommend. These include the appearance, size, and location of the suspicious area on the breast. Before discussing biopsy results, let’s first distinguish between the three types of biopsies.

All types of biopsy can be done using an ultrasound (in the Virginia Breast Care office) or mammogram (in the Martha Jefferson mammography suite) for guidance.  The type of biopsy needed depends on whether the area is best seen under ultrasound or mammogram.  Non-surgical biopsies are performed using local anesthesia, therefore a patient may drive herself home from a biopsy appointment.  Results are available in 2-3 business days.