If you or your doctor find a lump or a recent mammogram or ultrasound shows an abnormality or tiny calcium deposits (microcalcifications) in your breast, a biopsy is often recommended to determine a proper course of treatment. Only a biopsy can determine if that abnormality is cancerous or benign (noncancerous).

FINE NEEDLE ASPIRATION (FNA) - after the area is numbed with local anesthesia, the surgeon inserts a fine needle into the breast lump and withdraws a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope.

CORE BIOPSY - this kind of breast biopsy is performed using ultrasound to locate the mass. The surgeon guides a spring-loaded device to withdraw tissue samples for examination. This type of biopsy also involves local anesthesia.

STEREOTACTIC NEEDLE CORE BIOPSY - during this type of biopsy, a mammography machine is used to project mammographic images onto a computer screen while the surgeon guides a needle into the suspicious mass to take tissue samples. This procedure is also done using only local anesthesia and a very small (1/4 inch) incision.

OPEN BREAST BIOPSY (SURGICAL BIOPSY) - during this kind of biopsy, the surgeon makes an incision in the breast and removes tissue from the suspicious area. It is then sent to a pathologist for a diagnosis. This procedure is performed in the operating room, and may be done with either local or general anesthesia. Surgical breast biopsy is an outpatient procedure. You will likely be able to resume your usual activities within several days of the procedure.

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