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Breast Biopsy

A Breast Biopsy is a procedure to remove a sample of breast tissue for testing. The tissue sample is sent to a lab, where doctors specializing in analyzing blood and body tissue (pathologists) examine and diagnose it.

A breast biopsy might be recommended if you have a suspicious area in your breast, such as a breast lump or other signs and symptoms of breast cancer. It can also investigate unusual findings on a mammogram, ultrasound, or other breast exam.

The results of a breast biopsy can show whether the area in question is breast cancer or if it’s not cancerous. The pathology report from the breast biopsy can help your doctor determine whether you need additional surgery or other treatment.

Why it’s done
Your doctor may recommend a breast biopsy if:

You or your doctor feel a lump or thickening in the breast, and your doctor suspects breast cancer
Your mammogram shows a suspicious area in your breast
An ultrasound scan or breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals a suspicious finding
You have unusual nipple or areolar changes, including crusting, scaling, dimpling skin, or a bloody discharge


Risks associated with a breast biopsy include:

  • Bruising and swelling of the breast
  • Infection or bleeding at the biopsy site
  • Altered breast appearance, depending on how much tissue is removed and how the breast heals
  • Additional surgery or other treatment, depending on biopsy results

Contact your healthcare team if you develop a fever, if the biopsy site becomes red or warm, or if you have unusual drainage from the biopsy site. These can be signs of an infection that may require prompt treatment.




Breast cancer is categorized into five different stages, with subcategories within each. The stage is essential because it is often used to help determine appropriate treatment plans and patient prognosis. The earlier the stage, the easier it is to treat breast cancer in most cases.

Stage 0 – Cancerous, or malignant, cells have started to form in the breast.

Stage I – The tumor has grown in size to about 2 centimeters or less.

Stage II – The tumor is now between 2 and 5 centimeters and has started to spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage III – Measuring about 2 inches now, the tumor is continuing to grow and spread to other lymph nodes and tissues.

Stage IV – The breast cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body and is no longer confined to just the breast region.

Here are a few, but not all, of the risk factors associated with breast cancer:

Age – Incidence rates are higher for women over the age of 50. However, adults of any age can develop breast cancer. Regular mammograms are typically recommended for women ages 40 and up.

Family History – Inherited genetic mutations cause some cases of breast cancer. If breast cancer runs in your immediate family, you may be more at risk.

Birth Control – Research reveals that taking birth control pills can cause a slightly elevated risk.

Hormone Therapy – Some post-menopause hormone therapies seem to increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.

Pregnancy – While pregnancy itself is not a known risk factor, getting pregnant at an early or late age, or never getting pregnant at all, might contribute to increased risk.

Diet and Exercise – Becoming obese as an adult and a lack of regular physical exercise have both been linked to elevated breast cancer risk. This is particularly true if the excess fat is located in the waist instead of the hips or thighs.

Alcohol – Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day has been directly linked to breast cancer risk in women.

breast biopsy