Jefferson Health

Breast Biopsy

If you have been scheduled for a breast biopsy, it means that your radiologist has detected something suspicious in your breast. While this can be frightening, it is important to remember that it doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong. Many women in their lifetime will have some issue with their breasts that will need further evaluation. Most of the time, these additional exams are normal. But if you are found to have breast cancer, early detection increases your chances of survival.

What Does a Breast Biopsy Involve?

A breast biopsy is a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the breast for examination under a microscope. Breast biopsies may be performed under local anesthesia (numbing medicine at skin level) or with some form of general anesthesia (medicine which makes you drowsy). Breast biopsies are typically done as an outpatient procedure. Breast surgeons at the Jefferson Breast Care Center are experts in performing this procedure.

There are a few ways to perform a breast biopsy. The best method depends upon your condition: how suspicious the lump or abnormality in your breast looks, how large it is, where it is in your breast, how many lumps are present, other medical problems you may have and your personal preference.

Nonsurgical Breast Biopsies

  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) – uses a thin needle attached to a syringe and places it into the lump or suspicious area to remove a small sample of fluid and/or tissue. If the area to be biopsied can be felt, the needle can be guided into the area of the breast change while the physician is feeling it. If the lump can't be felt easily, your physician may use an ultrasound or mammogram to see the area to be biopsied on a screen in order to guide the needle. This would either be an ultrasound-guided biopsy or mammography-guided biopsy.
  • Core needle biopsy – is much like a fine-needle aspiration biopsy but a larger hollow needle is guided into a lump or suspicious area to remove small pieces of tissue. This biopsy is mostly done with local anesthesia and you are awake the whole time. Your physician may also use ultrasound or mammography in order to guide the needle to the suspicious area in your breast.
  • Stereotactic core breast biopsy – uses X-ray and a computer to pinpoint exactly where to place the needle in the abnormal area seen in your breast. This type of biopsy is often used to biopsy small calcifications (calcium deposits) in your breast.

Surgical Breast Biopsies

  • Incisional biopsy – a small part of the lump is removed and sent to pathology for your pathologist to review under the microscope. This biopsy is mostly done with local anesthesia, and you may also be given medicine to make you drowsy.
  • Excisional biopsy – the entire lump or abnormal area is removed and also a surrounding margin of normal-looking tissue. This tissue is sent to pathology for your pathologist to review under the microscope. This biopsy is mostly done with local anesthesia, and you may also be given medicine to make you drowsy.

Make an Appointment for a Breast Biopsy

You can schedule a nonsurgical biopsy in advance. To schedule an appointment, call 215-955-5400. Early morning, lunchtime and after work appointments are available.

Breast Biopsy in Center City Philadelphia

  • Medical Office Building, 1100 Walnut Street, 4th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107