Whether you notice an abnormality with a self-examination of your breasts, or your health care provider spots something unusual on your mammogram or ultrasound, you may need a breast biopsy to rule out or confirm what’s going on.
We understand that you might feel nervous or concerned, but learning how biopsies work and what you can expect can put your mind at ease.
Providing breast biopsies is one of the many common procedures we perform at Eastside Bariatric & General Surgery in Snellville, Georgia, where Aliu Sanni, MD, FACS, leads our team.
We’re here to answer your questions and take any worries out of what lies ahead.
What does it mean if I need to have a breast biopsy?
First, a biopsy doesn’t mean you have cancer. A biopsy helps us determine the nature of what seems to be an abnormality in your breast tissue.
To perform a breast biopsy, we remove a very small sample of your compromised tissue to be tested in a lab. This is how we find out if your growth is cancerous. Most biopsies end up not showing cancer.
And even if we find breast cancer, standard treatment offers a good prognosis, especially in the early stages of cancer.
Reasons for performing a breast biopsy
We may need to take a sample of your breast tissue to:
- Determine the nature of a lump or mass
- Closely examine results found on an imaging test
- Evaluate issues with your nipples, such as bloody discharge
- Determine if a lump or mass is malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous)
During your consultation, we explain the reasons we need to perform a breast biopsy, in addition to helping you understand what to expect.
What to expect during the procedure
We typically perform biopsies on an outpatient basis, so you can go home after your procedure. For safety reasons, have someone drive you to and from your appointment.
When you come in, we first have you remove your clothing from the waist up and put on the gown we provide for you. You lie down or sit up, depending on the angle needed.
We clean the biopsy site with a sterile solution and give you a local anesthetic, which may sting for a brief moment. Once the area is numb, we perform your biopsy.
Depending on the location and size of your area of concern, the type of biopsy we perform can vary. We may recommend one of these:
Fine needle aspiration biopsy
This type of biopsy involves inserting a very fine needle into the lump of abnormal tissue. Then we withdraw fluid or tissue from the area. This helps us determine if you have a fluid-filled sac or a cyst. This procedure doesn’t require an incision.
Core needle biopsy
During this biopsy, we use a large needle to remove small cylinders of tissue for examination. Again, no incision is needed.
Open (surgical) biopsy
To perform a surgical biopsy, we make a cut in the breast to remove a portion or all of the lump of concern.
If the lump is too difficult to find, we may use wire localization to get to the lump by putting a needle with a thin wire into your breast. We use imaging to guide us to the lump, where we remove a sample.
We offer local and general anesthesia, as needed, to keep you comfortable during the biopsy.
Understanding the different types of imaging
To achieve a successful biopsy, we use different types of imaging to guide the needles during your procedure, which may include:
This creates a 3D image of your breast, using a computer and the results from your mammogram or ultrasound. We use the 3D image to guide the biopsy needle to the abnormal tissues in your breast.
Vacuum-assisted core biopsy
We make a small cut in your breast and insert a tube that has a spinning knife inside to cut the tissue from your breast. We can also take several samples at one time.
Ultrasound images of your lump or mass help us guide the needle to the specific site.
Though the imaging we use might sound scary, we make sure you don’t feel anything.
Before scheduling your breast biopsy, you meet with Dr. Sanni for a consultation. You can ask questions and voice any of your concerns. You can also learn which procedure Dr. Sanni recommends and the details of what to expect.
To learn more about breast biopsies, contact our friendly office staff to book your appointment today. We’re here to help and give you the assurance you need.