Learn More about Breast Biopsies

When tissue in your breast appears suspicious, your doctor will likely recommend a biopsy, during which a small sample of breast tissue is removed and tested for disease.

Doctors study the tissue samples to determine whether a lump of cells is dangerous or whether any further treatment is needed.

A breast biopsy might be ordered if:

  • A lump or unusual thickening appears in your breast and breast cancer could be possible
  • The results of your mammogram or ultrasound indicate a suspicious area in your breast
  • Or if you experience unusual changes to a nipple, including flaking skin or bloody discharge

On the day of your biopsy, do not wear any lotion, perfume or deodorant of any kind. Sometimes, a breast ultrasound or mammography is used to guide the surgeon to the lump or suspicious tissue. Products such as lotion and deodorant can appear as white spots on ultrasounds and x-rays, which can be misleading.

Biopsies can be done several ways, depending on where the tissue is or how large it is. In general, a biopsy involves inserting a very thin needle into the breast to remove a tiny sample of tissue. That tissue is sent to the lab, where it will be examined for evidence of disease. The biopsy will be done in an operating room, where you might receive anesthesia.

After the biopsy, your breast may feel tender to the touch. You should not shower or lift anything heavy for 24 hours after the procedure.

Biopsies are an important way for physicians to determine the health of your breast. If you have any questions or concerns about this procedure, please discuss them with your doctor.

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