About 1 in every 8 women develops breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American women, and it often starts with a small mass or lump.

Identifying and treating breast cancer early gives you the best chance of beating it, so it’s essential to schedule regular health screenings. If you notice changes in the way your breast looks or feels — or a suspicious area is identified during a routine breast exam — you might need a biopsy to confirm or rule out cancer.

A breast biopsy is a procedure that takes a small sample of tissue from your breast. After your biopsy, pathologists evaluate the sample for cancer cells. It’s the best way to identify early-stage breast cancer, but it’s normal to have questions about the procedure.

Rachel Alt, MD, Brian Prebil, DO, and our surgical team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery perform breast biopsies and breast mass excision. What happens during and after your breast biopsy depends on the type of biopsy you need, and here’s what you can expect.

What happens during a breast biopsy

Our team is trained in several types of breast biopsy techniques. The best biopsy method for you depends on the size and location of the suspicious area, as well as your general health.

Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy

FNA biopsies are minimally invasive, and the method is a good option for many women. During an FNA biopsy, our team inserts a tiny needle into your breast to reach the suspicious area. No incisions are required, and they use the needle to take a small sample of fluid or tissue.

Core needle biopsy

Core needle biopsies use a larger needle to access the area of concern and take cylindrical tissue samples. No incisions are required, but the procedure is slightly more invasive because the needle is larger than the instruments used in FNA biopsy.

Surgical biopsy

Surgical biopsy requires an incision to reach the suspicious area. This method may be the best option if you have a deep or difficult-to-reach breast lump. With surgical biopsy, our team may remove part or all of the suspicious tissues.

No matter which method of biopsy is best for you, our team may use other technologies to make the procedure more accurate. 3D X-ray imaging or ultrasound imaging can help us see your breast tissue and guide the needle to the area in question.

What to expect after your breast biopsy

Once your biopsy is complete, we move you into recovery. We bandage and ice the area, then you’re free to go home. Plan to rest for the remainder of the day.

The risk of side effects following biopsy is low, but you may experience bleeding, bruising, or pain at the biopsy site. If you had a surgical biopsy, you will have stitches. Our team gives you instructions for recovering at home, and we may suggest over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce any discomfort you experience.

It usually takes several days for biopsy results to come back from the pathology lab. Your results include details such as the size and consistency of the tissue sample and whether precancerous, cancerous, or non-cancerous changes were present.

Your health care team reviews your biopsy results with you. If no cancer is present, you may not need additional treatment. If precancer or cancer is identified, we may recommend surgery or other treatments.

Do you need a breast biopsy? It’s a simple procedure and an effective way to identify precancer and cancer. Learn more about breast biopsy at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery. Call our Peoria, Arizona, office at 623-227-2581 or send us a message online.

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