Should I Be Concerned If I Need a Biopsy?

Learn why you need a breast biopsy and what to expect.

If your doctor has ordered a breast biopsy for you, it’s natural to be concerned. However, only about 20 percent of women who undergo a breast biopsy have cancer. In most cases, breast biopsies typically end up showing benign (noncancerous) tissue.

Why do I need a breast biopsy?

The most common reason for having a breast biopsy is because of an unusual result from a screening test for breast cancer, such as a:

Your doctor may also order a biopsy if a lump was found during a physical exam of your breast or if you have noticed changes in your nipple that could indicate a tumor, such as a bloody discharge or skin that is crusty, dimpled or scaly.

It’s important to note that not all abnormal test results or breast changes are the result of breast cancer. Most times, they indicate other types of tissue, such as:

  • A benign tumor
  • A cyst (a fluid-filled sac), which usually needs no treatment
  • Dense breast tissue

However, the only way to be sure is to test cells from the unusual area on your breast by performing a biopsy.

What to expect from a breast biopsy

All biopsies for potential breast cancer involve taking a sample of breast tissue for examination. Your doctor may take this sample through a needle or via a small surgical incision in your breast, depending on the size and area of the suspicious area.

We offer several forms of biopsies for breast cancer, including:

Once your doctor obtains a sample of tissue from your breast, our pathologists (doctors who specialize in the diagnosis of disease) will test that tissue to determine whether it indicates you have breast cancer. If the tissue is cancerous, our pathology team will examine several indicators, and our team will follow up with you to provide a specific diagnosis and next steps. Learn more about our process for providing an accurate diagnosis.

Getting the right breast cancer diagnosis

Our thorough, accurate diagnosis is crucial to every aspect of your breast cancer care.

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