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Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy is usually done to check a lump found during a breast exam or a suspicious area found on a mammogram or ultrasound. The biopsy removes a sample of breast tissue that is examined by a pathologist under a microscope to check for breast cancer.

Why is a Breast Biopsy Performed?

A breast biopsy checks to see if a breast lump is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).

How is a Breast Biopsy Done?

The sample of the breast tissue will be looked at under a microscope to check for cancer cells. There are several ways to do a breast biopsy:

Core-Needle Breast Biopsy

A core-needle biopsy inserts a special needle through the skin and into the lump or area of concern to remove a sample of tissue about the size of a pencil lead. A core-needle biopsy can also be done using a suction unit that gently removes a larger sample of tissue.

Lymph Node Breast Biopsy (Fine-Needle Aspiration)

Fine-needle aspiration places a thin needle through the skin and into the area to remove cells for examination. Needle aspiration may be done to see if the lump is solid or a fluid filled cyst. If the lump is a cyst, it will normally go away after the fluid is removed.

Open or Surgical Breast Biopsy

An open or surgical biopsy involves a cut in the skin removing either a sample of the lump or the entire lump.  

What Methods are Used for a Breast Biopsy?

There are a few special methods that may be used to help surgeons with the breast biopsy procedures. These methods include: 

MRI-Guided Core Needle Breast Biopsy

During an MRI-guided core needle breast biopsy, the radiologist uses an MRI machine to provide images that guides the surgeon to the precise biopsy site. Once that site is identified, a small incision is made and a sample is taken with a core needle.

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

A stereotactic biopsy uses a special type of X-ray during a core needle biopsy to precisely locate the area of the breast where the biopsy sample will be taken. This technique can check a lump that cannot be felt on breast examination but is seen on a mammogram or ultrasound.

Ultrasound-Guided Core Needle Breast Biopsy

Ultrasound-guided core needle breast biopsy is a special technique that may be used to obtain tissue samples from areas where calcifications are seen on mammography. The radiologist uses an ultrasound to guide a needle with increased precision to remove the tissue sample.

Make an Appointment

Make an appointment at a Memorial Hermann Breast Care Center or Memorial Hermann Imaging Center located throughout the Houston area at (877) 704-8700.