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Types of Biopsies

A biopsy is a procedure in which a doctor removes a small sample of tissue from the breast for further evaluation by a pathologist. There are two types of biopsies: minimally invasive and surgical.

Minimally Invasive Biopsy

A minimally invasive breast biopsy uses a special needle to sample an abnormal area in the breast. It can be performed on a breast lump without the use of imaging or with imaging guidance on an abnormality seen on an imaging exam. Image-guided biopsy uses mammography (e.g., stereotactic biopsy), ultrasound, or MRI to guide the needle to the abnormal area and to ensure that the sampling of the tissue is accurate. Image-guided needle biopsy usually requires a very small (e.g., 2-5mm) incision, but does not typically need stitches (i.e., sutures). Results of the biopsy are usually available within two working days, and recovery from the procedure usually occurs within 48 hours.

Surgical Biopsy

A surgical biopsy makes a small incision in the breast to remove a small sample of tissue or a breast lump. You are given some form of anesthesia to prevent discomfort and will have a surgical scar.

Graphic: American Cancer Society logo

Learn more about breast biopsies from the American Cancer Society.

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