Core biopsy of breast is one of the diagnosis tests used by doctors to determine whether the suspicious lump that you noticed in your breast is cancerous or not. If the results turn out to be positive for cancer, it will also help the doctor to determine what type of a cancer it is. It is not such an invasive procedure and hardly takes more than one hour to conduct.
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Breast core biopsy is usually recommended to both women and men who report a suspicious lump in their breast. Though 99% of breast cancer patients are women, men are also at risk of developing breast cancer. This is especially true for men who suffer from Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic disorder marked by breast growth.
When Will Doctor Recommend Core Biopsy
Core biopsy is done after ultrasound, X-ray, and/or mammogram tests are unable to conclude decisively whether the lump is malignant or non-malignant.
This test is also recommended when ultrasound or mammogram shows an abnormal change in your breast tissue in certain area of your breast. If your ultrasound and mammogram tests show a suspicious bend or distortion in breast tissue’s structure, your doctor will ask you to go for a core biopsy.
Your doctor might also ask you to go for core biopsy after the results of fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) were inconclusive or failed to determine the type of cancer present.
Where Will It Be Done
Core biopsy can be done at an outpatient facility, doctor’s office, or in a hospital. Where it will be done depends on your health, and location and size of the lump in your breast.
Prior to Test
Prior to the test your doctor will ask you whether you are on any medication or not. If you had some illness recently or you have a certain medical problem, you should let your doctor know about it. You should also tell your doctor, if you suffer from any allergy. Inform your doctor beforehand, if you are allergic to anesthesia.
If you are taking aspirin or some blood thinning medicine, you will be asked to stop taking these medicines three days prior to the core biopsy procedure. You will also be required not to apply any perfume, deodorant, lotion, or powder near the breast area from where the tissue sample will be taken.
Core Biopsy Procedure
Core biopsy is done with a core needle. It is also known as a spring-loaded, automatic needle. It is basically a hollow needle and is larger than the needle used in FNAB biopsy. The biopsy will be done by a surgeon, radiologist, or a pathologist.
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You will be given local anesthesia to make the concerned area of your breast numb. The doctor will feel the lump and then make a small incision in the breast skin right above the lump. The doctor will then activate the automated mechanism of the core needle and will then slowly insert the needle through the incision. The core of the suspicious breast tissue is collected in the hollow needle. The needle is then taken out. The doctor will repeat this process 3 or 6 times to ensure that the tissue sample collected is enough for testing purpose.
Breast Core Biopsy Using Ultrasound and Mammography
If the doctor is unable to feel the lump or the suspicious breast tissue area, then you will have to go for an ultrasound-assisted or mammography-assisted core biopsy. Ultrasound uses sound waves to generate images of the screened area. In breast biopsy, ultrasound will be used to generate images of the lump or the suspicious tissue area. The doctor will guide the core needle into the lump with the help of ultrasound.
In mammography-assisted core biopsy, two images of the breast from two different angles are taken. These images are then used by the physician to guide the needle into the lump or mass. After the test is completed, the incision is covered with a bandage or dressing. You can go home after the biopsy is completed. Make sure that you have brought along someone to drive you home after the test.
After Core Biopsy
You might experience some bruising or tenderness in the area where the incision was made. If you experience some pain, you doctor might prescribe you a pain killer or advise you to use an ice pack. Strenuous activities should be avoided for at least 24 hours after the test.
Core Biopsy Results
The collected sample is then sent to a lab. A pathologist will use a microscope to examine the sample and then prepare a detailed report. After examination, the pathologist can conclude that the collected sample is malignant, non-malignant, or is not enough to reach a definite conclusion. The pathologist can also conclude that though the collected sample shows signs of abnormality, it cannot be concluded that it is cancerous. In such a case, the pathologist will recommend a surgical biopsy.
The result will be discussed by your doctor, radiologist, or pathologist, depending on your circumstances. For example, if your doctor has recommended the radiologist, then the radiologist will give the report to the doctor, who will then discuss it with you.
Core Biopsy Risks
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If the cells collected in the hollow needle are cancerous, there is a possibility that some traces of these cells might be left behind in unaffected area when the needle is pulled out. However, there is very little possibility of this risk, if your doctor is skilled and experienced.
Core Biopsy Benefits
Breast core biopsy is not as invasive as surgical biopsy. The test is fast and effective. In most cases, patients are able to go home after an hour or so. There is minimum risk of developing an infection, pain or scarring in core biopsy. Moreover, there is minimum recovery time in core biopsy. The results are usually available within a day or two. If the results are positive for cancer, this quick diagnosis will help you start your treatment as soon as possible.
Overall, breast core biopsy is a very reliable test that is often able to provide conclusive results. However, you need to make sure that the physician or radiologist that you have selected is experienced and qualified in this field. An experienced and qualified physician will be able to conduct the test properly and ensure minimum side effects.
As you can see breast core biopsy is a quick test and there is nothing complicated about it. Therefore, do not be too stressed out during the test. Also remember that in most cases, the suspicious lump is not cancerous.