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Breast Biopsy

Only 20 percent of breast lumps are cancerous, but that doesn’t make the experience of getting a breast biopsy any less overwhelming. At the St. Jude Kathryn T. McCarty Breast Center, our staff is uniquely sensitive and compassionate to each woman’s needs during her biopsy.

Specializing in Minimally Invasive Breast Biopsies

Every breast biopsy targets only the suspicious breast tissue, without affecting the rest of the breast. In fact, 90 percent of breast biopsies can be obtained in a minimally invasive manner without an incision or general anesthesia.

The radiologist will recommend the most minimally invasive procedure possible depending on the size and location of your mass.

Fine needle breast biopsy

When the mass is easily felt by the physician or easily seen on ultrasound, a fine needle biopsy may be recommended. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area and a fine needle is used to withdraw enough tissue for examination by the pathologist. This procedure is performed by a radiologist or surgeon. Sometimes, lymph nodes in the armpit can also be assessed this way.

MRI-guided biopsy

During this kind of biopsy, your dedicated breast radiologist uses MRI technology to pinpoint the tumor and removing enough tissue to ensure the pathologist can make an accurate diagnosis.

Stereotactic breast biopsy

Core Needle or Vacuum-Assisted Stereotactic breast biopsy is performed when the breast lump is so small that it cannot be felt during an exam or if suspicious microcalcifications were seen on a mammogram. You will lie on a table on your stomach, with your breast dropping through an opening to allow for the breast to be biopsied. While mammography paddles compress the breast, the image is projected on a computer screen. A special needle designed to obtain tissue samples is guided to the suspicious areas. Several samples will be taken and images will confirm that an adequate amount was removed for examination by the pathologist. A radiologist performs this procedure.

Ultrasound-guided core biopsy

This kind of breast biopsy is performed when the lump is palpable during an exam or if it is easily seen on an ultrasound. Using ultrasound to locate the mass, a fine needle or vacuum-assisted device is used to withdraw tissue samples for examination by the pathologist.