If you’ve had an abnormal result from a screening mammogram, ultrasound or MRI, the usual next step is to have a biopsy.
There are 4 main types of biopsy:
- Fine needle aspiration is normally done without anaesthetic. Your doctor uses a thin needle to remove fluid or cells from the lesion.
- Core biopsy is normally done under local anaesthetic. Your doctor makes a small cut in your skin, then inserts a hollow needle to remove small pieces of tissue.
- Vacuum-assisted stereotactic core biopsy is done under local anaesthetic using imaging. You may be positioned on your abdomen while a radiologist makes a small incision which is used to take several tissue samples.
- Excision or surgical biopsy is normally done under general anaesthetic. Your doctor makes a small incision and removes some or all of the lesion. This type of biopsy is normally only done when the other kinds of biopsy can’t be performed, or where a non-surgical biopsy hasn’t given a clear diagnosis.
Your biopsy results
Often the hardest part of any biopsy is waiting for your results which normally takes several days. Ask your doctor when the result will be available and if you’re not contacted directly, phone the doctor’s rooms and ask if the result is ready. Only around 1 in 4 suspicious lesions turn out to be cancer.
Once your doctor has the results, and if they show that you have breast cancer, they’ll refer you to a breast cancer specialist.