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to view an animated version of this procedure.
is when the doctor makes a cut in the breast to remove all or part of a mass. The mass is examined in a lab.
Breast surgical biopsy is done to examine a suspicious area in the breast. It may be done if any of the following are found:
The biopsy can identify the area as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the biopsy:
You may receive the following types of anesthesia:
There are different ways the doctor can remove the mass from your breast:
You will be given either general or local anesthesia. The skin over the area will be cleaned. A small cut will be made over the area. A sample of the tissue or all of the mass will be removed. The site will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be applied.
This technique will be used if
the mass is too deep to be felt, but it can be seen with imaging tests. After the mass is located, a fine wire will be placed into your breast. The wire will point to the spot that needs to be biopsied. A small cut will be made in the area and the mass will be removed.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
It will take about 2-5 days to receive your test results. Home care will include using medications or taking self-care measures to reduce discomfort. The care staff will give instructions on how to change any bandages. Doing this will help reduce the chance of infection. Don't return to normal activities until your doctor says it is okay to do so.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Biopsy. The Breast Cancer website. Available at:
http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/biopsy. Updated September 17, 2012. Accessed January 22, 2013.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 17, 2013. Accessed January 22, 2013.
Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC.
Procedures for Primary Care Physicians. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book; 1994.
Sabiston DC, Lyerly HK.
Textbook of Surgery.
15th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 1997.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
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