Breast Biopsy (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is a breast biopsy?
- What is the purpose of a breast biopsy?
- What specialties of physicians and practitioners do breast biopsies?
- Who should have a breast biopsy?
- In what setting is the breast biopsy done?
- What may a benign result indicate?
- How is a suspicious breast growth discovered?
- What should the patient tell the physician about the growth?
- How does a physician confirm the presence of a breast growth?
- Is anesthesia needed for a biopsy?
- What about pain and complications?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of non-surgical procedures versus surgical breast biopsies?
- What are the different types of breast biopsy procedures and what do they involve?
- How is a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) done?
- How is a core needle biopsy (CNB) done?
- How is a vacuum-assisted breast biopsy done?
- How is an excision biopsy of the breast done?
- What is the time frame for receiving the results of a breast biopsy?
- Breast Biopsy At A Glance
- Find a local Surgeon in your town
How is a suspicious breast growth discovered?
Patients who discover a lump in a breast should see a physician for testing. They should also see a physician if they find a lump in an armpit or above a collarbone (either of which could indicate the presence of spreading cancer). Finally, a physician should be consulted if they have:
- red or irritated breast skin,
- scaly skin on the breast,
- dimpling skin on the breast,
- swelling breast skin,
- nipple discharge other than milk,
- nipple retraction or inversion,
- nipple itching,
- a change in the size or shape of a breast, or
- breast pain.
It is important to remember that these signs and symptoms do not necessarily indicate the presence of cancer.
What should the patient tell the physician about the growth?
The patient should tell the doctor when the growth appeared, what its size was at the time of discovery compared to its present size, and where it is located. The patient should also outline any family history of breast cancer, as well as any personal history of breast problems of any kind.
How does a physician confirm the presence of a breast growth?
A physician confirms the presence of a growth by taking a medical history (and asking numerous questions), performing a clinical examination that includes palpating (feeling) the breast, and interpreting the results of a diagnostic mammogram and sometimes other imaging studies such as ultrasound or MRI.
Ultrasound sends sound waves into the breast that "bounce" back to receiver that can record an image on a computer screen to visualize interior structures. This technique can help distinguish between a cyst and a solid growth. The physician may also order the laboratory analysis of any nipple discharge (other than milk) for the presence of cancerous cells. After confirming the presence of a suspicious growth, the physician orders a biopsy.
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