If you’ve been told by your doctor that they advise you have a breast biopsy then you’re probably already worried. You will be wondering how often is a breast biopsy positive? That’s a real concern because when you hear that the Doctor is wanting you to be tested then they must think you have breast cancer. Well let’s look at some of the facts about breast biopsies.
How Often is a Breast Biopsy Positive?
In other countries where costs are restrictive for breast biopsy tests the detection of breast cancer tends to be later and positives can be as high as 80%, but in the USA where we have an early detection policy and are very proactive about checking for cancers even if there is a slim chance of them being there, only about 20% of biopsies are cancerous.
What is Involved in a Breast Biopsy?
So now that you have you breast biopsy booked in your next concern is will it be painful and will it leave a scar? It very much depends on the type of breast biopsy that your Doctor has recommended for you. There are three main types of breast biopsy procedures.
Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsies
A fine needle aspiration biopsy is carried out as you would imagine with a very fine needle attached to a syringe which extract a small amount of tissue or fluid from the area of the breast that your Doctor has concerns about. This method is usually chosen when the lump of concern is freely accessible or if the Doctor believes the lump is more likely to be a fluid-filled cystic lump. If it is a cystic lump, then the lump will collapse as the fluid is withdrawn which is an early indicator that it is a cystic lump and not cancer. The fluid and tissue are sent to a lab for testing and it may be several weeks before you receive the results.
Core Needle Breast Biopsies
A hollow core needle is larger than a fine needle as it is used to remove a small amount of tissue from the area. It is usually performed under local anesthesia as it can be somewhat painful and its likely several samples will be taken. Imaging equipment may be used by the surgical team to visualize the area as they remove several samples. Some bruising may occur, but scars are very unlikely as the puncture wounds are very small.
Surgical Breast Biopsy
Needle biopsies are typically carried out first, but if the test comes back as positive or inconclusive then it is likely that a surgical breast biopsy will be carried. This involved the surgeon making a small incision to extract all or part of a lump and some normal tissue attached to the lump. Again, local anesthesia is used, so you’re awake but the breast is numbed. The incision will be stitched, and a small scar will likely develop. Often a surgical biopsy is the only way to provide conclusive proof that you have or do not have cancer.
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