Breast Cancer – Diagnostics – Biopsy
Any suspicious finding must be carefully analyzed. Microscopic analysis of a tissue sample (biopsy) is the most reliable method for determining whether a tissue change is benign or malignant.
A biopsy is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. It involves the removal of cells or tissues with a needle. This process is monitored continuously via ultrasound, X-ray, or MRI imaging.
The advantage: This quick, outpatient procedure causes hardly any injury at the insertion point (minimally invasive) – an adhesive bandage is usually sufficient. You are generally able to leave the clinic after a few hours.
The result “benign” provides reassurance
Benign changes do not usually require any further treatment. It is, however, recommended that women consult their doctor even after finding out results are clear to make sure there are no concerns or uncertainties that might affect your everyday life.
Further medical and laboratory tests will have to be performed if the tissue change is indeed a malignant tumor.
Biopsy results are important to plan further treatment
Cancer cells (synonym: tumor cells) develop from otherwise healthy cells. As soon as they change their usual growth pattern, they degenerate, begin to proliferate, and start to destroy any healthy tissue around them. Cancer cells (synonym: tumor cells) can also grow in other organs (metastatic cancer). Because of the great variety of cells in the body, it is important to analyze and examine the cancer cells and their characteristics thoroughly in order to arrive at the best possible treatment for that individual.
The biopsy results provide the first clues. Cytological (cells) and histological (tissue) examination of the tumor tissue removed during the biopsy provide the pathologist with a complete picture.
Biopsy is a safe procedure
The biopsy is a safe, tissue-sparing (minimally invasive) method. New techniques that use a core needle or vacuum permit small tissue samples to be extracted. Concerns that the tissue might be damaged during the process or that tumor cells might enter the tissue as a result are unfounded. A conclusive diagnosis far outweighs the minimal risk of injury.
Breast biopsies are usually monitored via ultrasound, but mammography is also commonly used for monitoring. A breast biopsy monitored via MRI imaging is a relatively new method. Generally, there are three different types of tissue removal:
- Core needle biopsy is a standard, minimally invasive biopsy procedure. The medical practitioner carefully inserts a two-millimeter thick needle under the patient’s skin after pinpointing the location of the suspicious breast tissue by palpating the lump. The needle is placed in the breast to extract tissue samples. This procedure is usually monitored via ultrasound.
- Vacuum-assisted biopsy is computer-operated and makes it possible to extract larger quantities of tissue. Tissue is sucked using a vacuum technique through an opening at the side into the three-millimeter thick needle, then detached and extracted. This method may even be used to remove whole areas that are suspected to be cancerous. Stitches are not needed, however, it may leave a small scar. The imaging method used for this type of biopsy is usually mammography.
- Open surgical biopsy is carried out when a punch or vacuum biopsy has failed to deliver clear results. This usually means that a small incision is made into the skin under general anesthesia to extract larger amounts of tissue. The patient usually stays at the hospital over night.