You may have a breast lump or some other change in your breast. Most breast lumps or other changes are not cancer. However, to be sure, you have been scheduled for a nonsurgical breast biopsy.
A nonsurgical breast biopsy is the term used to describe various techniques that do not require surgery to obtain samples of cells or tissue to establish a precise diagnosis. This is the way to determine if the abnormality is benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
There are a variety of nonsurgical biopsy techniques available today. A nonsurgical breast biopsy requires sophisticated equipment to precisely locate and remove a small sample of tissue. This procedure is performed by a radiologist (doctor) and technologist specially trained in this technique. Once the tissue sample is obtained, it is examined by a pathologist (a doctor specially trained to review tissue samples). The tissue sample must be prepared and processed before a final diagnosis can be made. This usually takes approximately one week.
In general, these biopsies are performed with the use of a local anesthetic and patients have a quick return to normal activities.
Types of Nonsurgical Biopsies
Aspiration uses a needle and syringe to attempt to drain the lump. If the lump is a cyst (a fluid tilted sac that is not cancer), removing the fluid will drain it. No other treatment will be needed. If it does not drain, an ultrasound-guided biopsy will be performed.
Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy
Ultrasound uses sound waves to show structures inside the body. For this type of biopsy, you will lie on your back on a padded table. The breast will be numbed and ultrasound will be used to guide the insertion of the needle to obtain a tissue sample. The tissue samples are obtained using a special needle. Immediately following the biopsy, a clip/marker will be placed in the breast if deemed necessary by the performing physician.
A stereotactic breast biopsy is performed using special x-ray equipment to locate the abnormal area. You will lie on your stomach on a special padded table that has an opening for the breast. The breast is compressed similar to a mammogram. Special mammogram pictures are taken to confirm the location of the area to be sampled. The tissue samples are obtained using a special vacuum-assisted needle. Immediately following the biopsy, a clip/marker will be placed in the breast if deemed necessary by the performing physician.
Preparing for the Biopsy
• If you take aspirin or blood thinners on an everyday basis, you must stop taking it for three days before your exam
• In addition, if you take blood thinners, you will need to arrive one hour before your exam to have blood work done in the Outpatient Center - Neighbor Health lab which is on the first floor of Building #1. You must have a prescription from your doctor for this lab work. Please take the doctor’s slip with you to the lab
• If you feel you will need more than local anesthesia, please contact your doctor for additional pain or calming medication prior to your scheduled procedure
• Please eat normally on the day of your test
• We recommend that you bring a tight fitting or athletic support bra to wear after the procedure to minimize movement of the breast and discomfort
Is the procedure painful?
Everyone has a slightly different pain threshold. A local anesthetic will be used to numb your breast to minimize the discomfort you might feel.