Have you felt a lump?
You may have felt a lump in your breast. Or you healthcare provider may have noticed a change during an exam. While it’s normal to worry, keep in mind that most breast lumps are not due to cancer. In fact, many require little or now treatment.
To find the cause, you may need to have a biopsy, a procedure to remove a sample of tissue. There are several types of biopsies. The choice of which type depends on many factors – including appearance, size, shape, location or abnormality. Your health history also may be a determining factor. You and your doctor will determine the one that is right for you.
Type of biopsies
Percutaneous uses needles or special probes to remove the sample. Surgical biopsies require an incision in the skin. Image-guided biopsies such as ultrasound or MRI may be used to help locate the tissue to be sampled. And some procedures use x-rays (mammography) to pinpoint the tissue.
During the biopsy
- A local anesthetic may be used to numb the skin over the biopsy site
- With fine needle aspiration – a very thin needle is used to remove the sample
- With core needle biopsy – a hollow needles is used to remove the tissue sample
- With vacuum-assisted biopsy – the probe often is inserted only once. More than one sample can be taken without removing the probe
- A small clip may be left inside the breast to mark the biopsy site making it easier to locate the site if future testing or treatment is needed
After the biopsy
You can to home shortly after the biopsy, no matter which method is used. You can return to your normal routine in a day of two, however you may have some bruising and swelling for a few days.
Pain medications may be prescribed. Ice packs can help ease minor soreness, bruising and swelling. Be sure to care for you incision as directed.
Getting your results
Waiting for you biopsy results is never easy. Your doctor will likely contact you within days to discuss the results and let you know if any follow-up treatment is needed.
- Get a clinical exam every 1 to 3 years from age 20 to 39, then one every year form age 40 onward.
- A yearly mammogram starting as age 40, or as advised by your healthcare provider.