Breast Biopsy

What is a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is a procedure where a sample of cells or tissue is removed from an area in the breast for detailed analysis of the cells and their surrounding structures. It is typically recommended to confirm if an abnormality is cancerous or non-cancerous.

It can be used to:

  • Assess a lump or thickening in the breast detected during a breast examination, or any other suspicious symptoms of breast cancer, such as bloody nipple discharge
  • Investigate an abnormality seen on a mammogram, ultrasound, or other breast imaging tests, even in the absence of symptoms

Learn more about breast lumps and when a breast biopsy might be necessary.

Types of breast biopsies

A breast biopsy can be done in several ways. Types of breast biopsies include:

Fine needle aspiration biopsy

A very thin needle attached to a syringe is inserted into the abnormality to extract a sample of tissue or fluid for analysis.

Core needle biopsy

Similar to fine needle aspiration biopsy, this procedure uses a larger hollow needle to collect multiple samples at the same time. This is the most common type of biopsy used for diagnosing breast cancer.

Vacuum assisted biopsy (VAB)

Like the core needle biopsy, VAB uses a hollow needle but has additional vacuum suction to extract multiple samples. This procedure is more efficient. For small lumps, it is even able to completely remove it entirely.

Open surgical biopsy

An open surgical biopsy removes the entire lump or part of it for testing through a surgical incision or cut. Some of the surrounding normal breast tissue may be removed as well.

Some breast biopsies require the use of specialised guidance by tests like mammogram, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI in order to approach the area of abnormality more accurately. These methods are essential in cases where the abnormality is not palpable or cannot be felt:

  • Stereotactic mammogram-guided biopsy, which uses mammogram images done in a 3-dimensional field to pinpoint the location of the abnormality within the breast to guide needle insertion

  • Ultrasound-guided biopsy, which uses ultrasound images to locate the abnormality to guide needle insertion

  • MRI-guided biopsy, which uses detailed 3D pictures generated by magnetic resonance imaging to locate the abnormality to guide needle insertion

  • CT-guided biopsy, which uses a computerised tomography (CT) scanner to locate the abnormality to guide needle insertion

Why do you need a breast biopsy?

Your doctor may recommend a breast biopsy to investigate any abnormal findings detected during a routine breast examination. The breast biopsy can help determine whether cancerous cells are present, and if so, the origin and type of the cancer.

What are the risks and complications of a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is a relatively simple procedure with minimal risks. These include:

  • Mild pain and bleeding
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Possible change in the appearance of the breast, depending on how much tissue was removed and how the wound heals.

Most of these side effects are temporary and subside with time.

Why choose Gleneagles Hospital?

At Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore, we offer a comprehensive range of medical services for our patients. Our skilled team of surgeons, specialists and allied health professionals combine both experience and expertise to diagnose, manage and treat a wide range of cancer conditions.

Our specialists

We have experienced surgeons, cancer specialists and diagnostic radiologists who are proficient in the diagnosis and treatment of various cancer conditions, including breast cancer. Let our dedicated team look after your health with your needs, comfort and privacy as our top priorities.

Please check with your insurance provider for more information, and for their most up-to-date list of panel doctors.

^Specialists may qualify to be on the Extended Panel (EP). You may enjoy selected panel benefits depending on your policy and riders.
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