Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
A breast biopsy procedure is usually done to determine whether a growth in the breast is cancerous or benign.
A lump or other sign of breast cancer in a man or woman may warrant a breast biopsy.
A breast biopsy can be done with a needle or by a surgical procedure.
Non-surgical biopsies tend to be less stressful and minimize the risk of complications.
Non-surgical biopsies are not always as reliable as surgical biopsies in producing a conclusive diagnosis.
The biopsy may be done with imaging guidance.
What is a breast biopsy?
A breast biopsy is a procedure in which part or all of a suspicious area in
the breast is removed and examined, usually for the presence of cancer. The growth sample is suctioned out through a needle or cut out using a surgical procedure.
A pathologist then examines and evaluates it under a microscope to identify non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant) tissue.
Words used to refer to the abnormal area or growth before and after diagnosis may include lump, mass, lesion,
calcification, and tumor.
What is the purpose of a breast biopsy?
The breast biopsy is used to determine whether or not a worrisome abnormality
or area of calcification is cancer and, if it is cancer, what type it is
and how to develop a treatment plan. When no cancer is detected, the diagnosis of a benign or harmless lump is reassuring.
What specialties of physicians and
other health-care professionals perform breast biopsies?
Many physicians and health-care professionals can be involved in evaluating a woman for a breast biopsy.
For example, breast abnormalities during a physical examination might be noticed by a family physician, internist, gynecologist, or nurse practitioner. Women themselves are frequently the first to detect abnormalities in their breasts.
Radiologists are specialists in interpreting x-rays such as mammograms, as well as other imaging studies. Radiologists or surgeons often perform the procedure to obtain these breast tissue samples.
Anesthesiologists (specialists in administering anesthesia and monitoring a patient's vital signs) are sometimes necessary during
some surgical procedures.
Pathologists are physician specialists who examine and identify under a microscope the type of cells in the samples and determine whether or not cancer is present.
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad St?ppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is a tissue sampling technique that uses a
special instrument and imaging guidance to remove samples of breast tissue
through a single, small skin incision. This technique allows the surgeon to
remove more tissue through a single incision than is possible with a traditional
core biopsy and is a much less invasive procedure than an
open surgical biopsy.
For these reasons, vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is becoming more common as a
diagnostic tool in the management of
breast lumpsand abnormalities.
While the patient's history and physical examination are the initial steps of making a medical diagnosis, the ability to peer inside the body can be a powerful tool. Ultrasound is an imaging technique that provides that"...