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Breast Tissue Biospy

A breast tissue biopsy is the only definitive way to determine whether or not a woman has breast cancer. Clinical breast exam, mammography, ultrasound, and MRI are used to help detect breast abnormalities, while breast tissue biopsy is used to determine whether the abnormality is cancerous or benign. Approximately 48 million mammograms are preformed in the United States each year. Of the women who receive these screening exams, less than five percent will need to undergo a breast tissue biopsy. Between 65 and 80 percent of all breast tissue biopsy results show that tissue abnormalities are benign.

Types of Breast Tissue Biopsy

There are five major types of breast tissue biopsy exams, each of which has benefits and drawbacks. If your health care professional recommends a breast tissue biopsy following screening, you should speak with him/her about your options to find the procedure that will be most beneficial for you.

  1. The least expensive, is Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA). During this breast tissue biopsy, a fine-gauged needle (smaller than the one used to draw blood) is inserted through the skin to collect a sample of fluid from a cyst or solid mass. This sample is sent to the lab for special testing. This is the fastest and simplest type of breast tissue biopsy.
  2. A core needle biopsy removes samples of breast tissue using a hallow core-type needle. This breast tissue biopsy may be performed alone or in combination with a stereotactic mammogram or ultrasound, depending on whether or not the breast abnormality is palpable or not. This test can be more accurate than the FNA.
  3. Vacuum-assisted biopsy, also called Mammotome or MIBB, is another type of breast tissue biopsy. This procedure is a relatively new procedure that uses stereotactic mammography or ultrasound to pinpoint the location of the mass and guide the needle into the right spot. This procedure can be performed with minimal invasion and is especially useful for patients with multiple masses.
  4. During large core surgical biopsy (ABBI) the patient lays face down on a biopsy table and stereotactic mammogram helps determine the exact location of the mass. The large core biopsy removes between five and 20 millimeters of tissue.
  5. The most expensive and involved technique is the open surgical biopsy. This breast tissue biopsy is the "gold standard" used to gauge the effectiveness of other methods. This technique requires a small incision through which a tissue sample is taken.
Contact A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Near You

If a breast tissue biopsy shows that abnormalities are cancerous, it is crucial that the type and stage of the cancer be identified as soon as possible. The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of survival. If you are a breast cancer survivor and would like to speak with a surgeon about your breast recontruction options, please contact us to find a board certified plastic surgeon in your area.