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Biopsy involves removing tissue from the breast for further evaluation. If your physician has requested that you have a biopsy, he or she wants to obtain the most detailed and accurate information possible about your breast tissue. Having a biopsy does not mean you have breast cancer.

Needle biopsy

Most breast biopsies today are minimally-invasive procedures with a minimum of discomfort and recovery time. A special hollow needle is used to withdraw a small tissue sample from an abnormal mass or lump in the breast. The breast is first cleansed and then numbed with a local anesthetic. A specially trained clinician views live-time images of your breast on digital mammography or ultrasound equipment to precisely locate the lump or tissue to be biopsied. The tissue sample is drawn up into the needle and removed. No stitches are required.

The tissue sample is sent to a laboratory for testing. Ask your physician how soon the test results will be available to you.

Stereotactic breast biopsy

Stereotactic breast biopsy is another version of minimally invasive breast biopsy. It is an excellent choice for diagnosing suspicious areas identified by a mammogram that are not palpable with the fingertips. Stereotactic breast biopsy is available at three Inova locations: Inova Alexandria Hospital, Inova Fair Oaks Hospital and Inova Mount Vernon Hospital.

Surgical biopsy

In some cases, a physician may need to perform a surgical biopsy with a local or general anesthetic. The physician makes an incision and removes the tumor or tissue from the breast that requires further study. Stitches and a longer recovery time may be needed.

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