All You Need to Know About Breast Biopsies

If you have a lump or change in your breast, speak to your healthcare professional right away. Your doctor may also see an abnormal finding on a mammogram. To make sure it isn’t cancer, you may undergo follow-up tests, such as a diagnostic mammogram, breast MRI or breast ultrasound.

If these tests cannot rule out cancer, you will need a breast biopsy; a biopsy is the only test that can diagnose breast cancer.

A biopsy removes cells or tissue from the suspicious area of the breast. The cells or tissue are then checked out under a microscope to see if cancer is present. There are two main types of breast biopsies: needle and surgical. A core needle biopsy is the standard method to diagnose — or rule out — breast cancer.

It may be scary to hear that you need a breast biopsy, but it is necessary to make sure you don’t have breast cancer. And if the results come back positive, treatment is available, and Komen CSNJ is here to support you. With standard treatment, people with breast cancers found early have a high chance of survival.

To help you better understand a breast biopsy, bring these questions — or print this helpful card — to your next appointment:

  • What type of biopsy will I have? Will the entire lump be removed or just part of it?
  • Why do you recommend this type of biopsy for me? How accurate is it?
  • Who will do the biopsy?
  • How long will the biopsy take? Will I be awake? Will I feel anything? Can I go home the same day I have the biopsy?
  • Should I avoid any medicines before the biopsy? If so, for how long? When can I start taking them again?
  • Will the biopsy leave a scar?
  • What are the possible side effects of the biopsy? How long will they last? What problems should I report to you (i.e., tenderness, pain, numbness along the scar)?
  • When will I be able to resume my normal activities
  • After the biopsy, when will I get the results?

Here at Komen CSNJ, we are dedicated to ending breast cancer forever, and we are here for those that need guidance, support and help. Visit our website at komencsnj.org for more information.