What To Expect When You Go For A Breast Biopsy

Feeling a lump in your breast is a scary experience. The good news is that there are steps you can take to determine if the lump is cancerous or benign.

According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, your doctor may first choose to get a sense of the nature of the lump through a mammogram, an MRI, or an ultrasound. If these tests reveal suspicious results, your doctor may advise a breast biopsy. Per Mayo Clinic, a breast biopsy is a procedure in which a healthcare professional extracts a piece of the suspicious breast tissue and then sends the sample to a lab specializing in the analysis of blood and tissue. The results will show whether or not the lump is breast cancer. If it is cancer, this diagnosis will help your doctor advise you on the best next steps.

If your doctor feels your breast lump requires a biopsy, there are a number of types of biopsies, and your doctor will help guide you on the best one for your situation.

Different types of breast biopsies

According to the experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the type of biopsy you will be given will be decided using several factors such as the size and location of the lump. Depending on the type of biopsy, you may only need local anesthesia. If the biopsy requires general anesthesia, you will be asleep during the procedure.

If your doctor was able to feel your lump during an exam and has some suspicion that is a cyst, a fine-needle biopsy may be most appropriate. It is a simple procedure where you lay down as your doctor directs a very small needle into the lump. However, if your doctor sees the lump on a mammogram or ultrasound, this may require a core needle biopsy which can gather more tissue samples (via Mayo Clinic). In the case of a surgical biopsy, some or all of the lump is removed through a cut made in the breast, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best ways to prepare for your biopsy, as well as what to expect after the biopsy, so you know how to address any pain or other issues. Breast biopsies have some risks such as bruising, bleeding, and infection, warns Mayo Clinic. If your biopsy site becomes warm or red, if you experience unusual drainage from the site of the biopsy, or if you develop a fever, be sure to consult your doctor, as these symptoms could indicate an infection.