For females living in the United States wanting to take control of their own health, regular OB GYN checkups and mammograms are necessary. You can also take control by having a breast biopsy performed. Not familiar with the process or what a breast biopsy even is? Keep reading to learn more.

First of all, what is a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is a biopsy of the tissues surrounding the breast and the cells within it. It typically requires removing tissue or fluid from the breast region. Once removed, the cells are closely examined under a microscope. They also undergo a series of tests to check for breast cancer. There are other less invasive method to try and determine if cancerous cells are present, but this one is the most thorough.

Not only does a breast tell you if cancer cells are present, but also what kind of cancer cells they are. Less than 50% of biopsies performed on American women come back with cancerous results. This is mostly due to early detection, which is vital for monitoring the risks of breast cancer.

What are the 3 types of breast biopsies?

There are 3 types of biopsies to choose from: fine-needle aspiration, core-needle, and surgical. Your doctor will help you determine which one is suitable for you and your specific conditions. There are two that are more common and less invasive, so here’s what you need to know about these breast biopsy methods.

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy

According to one of leading breast centers in the United States, Bedford Breast Center, a fine-needle aspiration biopsy is as follows:

“A fine-needle aspiration biopsy uses a very thin needle attached to a syringe to withdraw tissue or fluid from a suspicious area. The doctor may choose to conduct a fine-needle aspiration when the lump is easily accessible or if the doctor suspects that it may be a fluid-filled cystic lump…

…During this type of breast biopsy procedure, the lump should collapse once the fluid inside has been drawn and discarded. Sometimes, an ultrasound is used to help your doctor guide the needle to the exact site.”

Core-needle biopsy

According to the same source, this is what makes a core-needle biopsy:

“Core needle biopsy is the procedure like the fine-needle biopsy but with a slightly larger, hollow needle to remove a small amount of tissue from abnormal area in the breast. It is usually performed while the patient is under local anesthesia, meaning you are awake but the breast is numbed…

…The needle is usually put in anywhere between 2-6 times to get multiple samples. The radiologist or surgeon performing the core-needle biopsy may use specialized imaging equipment to guide the needle to the desired site such as an ultrasound.”

Surgical breast biopsy

The third type of breast biopsy, surgical, is only used when absolutely needed since it is more invasive. But in some cases surgery is necessary. Here’s what you need to know according to Bedford Breast Center:

“A surgical biopsy of breast tissue is performed while the patient is under local anesthesia, you are awake but the breast is numbed. The surgical biopsies are much more involved than a needle biopsy requiring stitches and usually it will leave a scar.”