Minimally Invasive Biopsies

If your mammogram shows an area of suspicion or you find changes or something unusual in one of your breasts, your health care provider will recommend a biopsy. Just because you have a biopsy does not mean you have breast cancer.

A biopsy involves removing a sample of tissue and then having it reviewed under a microscope by a pathologist. Most biopsy results do not indicate cancer. Noncancerous breast conditions are very common, and they are never life-threatening.

  • There are several ways to do a breast biopsy:
  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy - A thin needle with a hollow center is inserted into a lump to remove a sample of cells or fluid.
  • Core needle biopsy - A hollow needle with a special tip is used to remove a sample of breast tissue about the size of a grain of rice.
  • Vacuum-assisted core biopsy - A special probe that uses a gentle vacuum to remove a small sample of breast tissue.
  • Open (surgical) biopsy - A small incision is made in the skin and breast tissue to remove all or part of a lump.

If needed, an ultrasound or MRI may be used to guide the biopsy needle. Your doctor may decide to use a computer to locate the exact spot for the biopsy sample using images from mammograms that have been taken from two angles (stereotactic needle biopsy). A fine wire, clip or marker also may be used to mark the site.