8 breast biopsy questions, answered

Getting a breast biopsy? You might be wondering what it is and how it works. A breast biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which a doctor removes a small amount of breast tissue to examine under a microscope. If the tissue sample shows cancer, the physician can have it analyzed further to provide the most accurate diagnosis — a critical first step in getting patients the best treatment possible for their particular type of breast cancer. A biopsy may be ordered when a mammogram or other breast imaging (such as an ultrasound) reveals an abnormality or you feel a lump in your breast, or when a physician notices something suspicious (such as dimpling or a change in skin texture) during a clinical exam. We spoke with Marion Scoggins, M.D., to learn more. Here’s what she had to say. What are the types of breast biopsies, and how are they different? There are two basic types of breast biopsy: surgical and needle. A breast biopsy done surgically through an incision in the skin is called a surgical breast biopsy. A breast biopsy done by inserting a needle through the skin is called a breast needle biopsy. There are two main types of breast needle biopsy:  fine needle aspiration, which uses a thin, hollow needle attached to a syringe, and core needle biopsy, which uses a larger needle that removes a small, tube-shaped piece of tissue with a spring-loaded device or a vacuum-assisted device. Because it’s important to pinpoint areas of concern and pull tissue from those exact spots, doctors typically use an ultrasound — or a mammogram or MRI, in some...