Cancer Information

Surgical Breast Biopsy: Types of Biopsies

A surgical breast biopsy requires an incision in the skin. This allows your doctor to take a large sample of tissue from the breast. In fact, the whole lump is often removed. The sample is then sent to a lab for study.


If You Need Wire Localization

A lump that can’t be felt may be hard to locate. In such a case, one or more guide wires may be placed in your breast before biopsy surgery. These thin wires help mark the tissue that is to be removed. A mammogram or ultrasound is used to direct the wire’s placement. Then you’re taken to the operating room for surgery. The wire is removed during the biopsy.


Large Core Biopsy

Large core biopsy uses a hollow instrument to remove a tissue sample. A small incision is made in the skin. The hollow instrument is inserted through this incision. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the site. Before the biopsy, a guide wire may be placed to mark the breast mass. Often the entire mass is removed. Large core biopsy takes about an hour to perform. Due to the size of the sample removed, stitches are often needed.


Open Surgical Biopsy

Open surgical biopsy removes a tissue sample through a skin incision. To keep you from feeling pain during the biopsy, you are likely to be given intravenous sedation. This produces a light sleep. Your surgeon then makes one incision in your breast. If possible, this is done in a way that hides the scar. In most cases, all of the lump is removed. The incision is closed with stitches. Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others may need to be removed when the incision heals.


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