Getting ready for your first breast biopsy and worried about the same? Well here are some basic facts about breast biopsies that you would need to know before opting for the procedure. These pointers would help you understand what’s in store for you when you walk into the clinic for a breast biopsy.
What Exactly Is A Breast Biopsy?
There are several standard ways to detect small lumps and suspicious marks on the breasts. However, while procedures like breast ultrasounds and mammograms would only show the presence of lumps or marks on the breast, only a biopsy would be able to determine whether the lump or mark is in fact a cancerous growth or not.
The process simply involves making an incision in the skin on or near the affected area and then removing a portion of the lump (usually done with a needle or a surgical tool). The cells present in the removed lump are then looked at via a microscope to detect cancerous growth.
Is A Biopsy Necessary? Are There Different Types Of Biopsies?
Unfortunately yes! A biopsy is the only way to detect whether the lump/mark in your breast is benign or malignant. There are different ways in which a breast biopsy can be done.
The method chosen would depend on certain factors like the size of the lump, the number for lumps present, the location of the lump on the breast, the extent to which the breast is affected by the lump (suspicious cancerous activity), existing medical problems, body conditions and of course personal preferences.
Different Types Of Biopsy Procedures
Some of the more common types of breast biopsy procedures include Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy, Core Needle Biopsy, Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy, Vacuum Assisted Core Biopsy, Circular Rotating ‘Cookie Cutter’ Knife, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) guidance, Ultrasound Guided Biopsy and Excisional Biopsy.
Each method comes with its own sets of pros and cons which need to be weighed with individual body constraints and personal preferences before being initiated. Accordingly, you can talk with your doctor and ascertain the biopsy method that would best suit your body before opting for the procedure.
After the biopsy is completed, the lump that is removed from your breast is sent to the pathologist for testing. Results may take a few days after which you can ask for a pathology review report if you are not sure about the results or want a second opinion.
A negative biopsy result would indicate that the lump in your breast is not cancerous and so does not need to be worried about. However, it is advised that you follow a negative biopsy report with regular mammograms and routine breast examinations to rule out similar issues in the future.
A positive biopsy result would indicate that the lump in your breast is cancerous. In this case, you would most probably want to make note of a few terms that show up in your biopsy report.
Indicates that the cancer has not spread to the other areas of the breast or the body.
Indicates that the cancer had spread to the nearby breast tissue and possibly to the other organs in the body via the lymph nodes and blood stream.
Indicates how fast the cancer can spread to other parts of the body, thereby helping your doctor choose the best course of treatment to curb the issue.
A positive HER2 test in your biopsy report would indicate that the cancerous growth in your breast contains high levels of HER2/neu protein and so can potentially spread much faster than other types of cancer.
Questions to Ask The Doctor Before Opting For A Biopsy
Your mind may be filled with countless number of questions about a biopsy as and when you opt for one. Here are some of the more important questions that you need to get cleared by your doctor before opting for the biopsy.
What would be the best choice of biopsy for me?
How will it be affected by the size of the lump?
How exactly would the biopsy be performed?
Where in the breast would the biopsy be done?
Where in the breast would the incision be made?
Will I be given general or local anesthesia during the procedure?
How long would the entire procedure take?
Would I be able to resume my normal activities immediately or do I need rest?
Will there be a permanent mark on my breasts like a scar, redness, bruise or hole in the area where the biopsy is made?
Will my breasts be sore after the procedure?
Will my future activities like lifting heavy objects, driving a car or taking care of the children be limited?