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  • Writer's pictureDr Jesse Hu

Get a Breast Check-up! What a breast biopsy is all about

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

So... what is a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is a minor procedure, which removes tissues from the breast so that it can be tested to determine if the patient has cancer.

Diagram of a breast biopsy
Source: Mount Elizabeth Hospital

An accurate biopsy can be taken from most patients without the need for open surgical procedure. An image-guided biopsy is required when an abnormality is detected on a mammogram and/or ultrasound scan. However, 90% of the biopsies are negative, i.e. no cancer is found.

There are several types of percutaneous breast procedures available.

  • Core Needle Biopsy - a few sample of tissue are taken

  • Vacuum Assisted Biopsy - larger areas are sampled and sometimes the whole lesion can be removed

What to Expect During the Procedure

These procedures are done under local anaesthesia or under sedation and as a day-surgery procedure in an outpatient setting. The area in the breast where the abnormality is noted is first localised using an ultrasound or mammogram machine. The doctor then inserts a needle to obtain small samples of tissue. Several needle insertions are usually required to obtain an adequate sample.

The wound on the skin is so small that no stitches are needed. Dressings will be placed over the wound to keep it clean. After certain biopsy (especially after vacuum assisted biopsy) where larger amounts of tissues are removed, compression dressing may be applied over the usual dressing to reduce bleeding and swelling.

After The Procedure

Ensure that you have someone to accompany you home after the procedure.

Any compression dressing should be removed after 24 hours.

The dressing covering the puncture site should be kept dry and can be removed after 3 days.

Should there be any bleeding, do compress the wound firmly for 15-20 minutes. If the bleeding persists, please contact your doctor.

Should you experience pain over the wound site, you may take Paracetomol or NSAIDs

Avoid vigorous swinging of the arm on the affected side for 48 hours after the biopsy.

Wearing a good supportive bra helps with the pain and swelling.

If you need some help or just some advice to calm your worries, make an appointment with our doctor, and we'll help guide you through any worries that you might have!

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