Why might a woman have a breast biopsy?
A biopsy (Bx) is the surgical removal of tissue for the purposes of histological examination in the histology lab. The purpose of a biopsy of any tissue is to look for abnormalities. Breast tissue biopsies are performed on some women either when a mass or lump is palpated by her or her physician or a mass is visualized on mammogram.
Lumps or masses in the breast are abnormal and should be investigated to ascertain the cause of the lump. The physician must rule out cancer of the breast. Unfortunately, breast cancer is prevalent in all societies and is a major cause of premature death and disability.
A mass in the female breast does not automatically mean the woman has cancer, other common causes are calcium deposits and changes to the tissue during menstruation.
Breast biopsy consists of sampling of mammary gland tissue that will then be examined under a microscope to see if it is a breast cancer.
A breast biopsy is indicated at the time when mammography or ultrasound have discovered a tumor or when clinical examination has discovered a breast lump.
There are several ways used for a breast biopsy. A piece of tissue is examined under a microscope to see if cancer cells are found:
- Fine-needle aspiration: the method consists of a small needle that stings the skin. Tumor tissues will be harvested for the microscope analysis. Aspiration may be necessary to see if it's a solid formation or a liquid (a cyst). If it is a cyst, it will disappear after the liquid has been extracted. If there is not a cyst, another type of biopsy is necessary.
- Puncture-biopsy: such a type of biopsy can be done using a suction device that extracts in a gentle manner a greater portion of the tumor tissue.
- Guided biopsy: which is used in case of a formation that it is not felt to the touch but is seen by mammography or ultrasound.
- Open-biopsy: which is done through an incision in the breast and a piece of tissue or whole tumor will be removed.