Breast Biopsy (cont.)

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What should the patient tell the physician about the growth?

The patient should tell the doctor when the growth appeared, what its size was at the time of discovery compared to its present size, and where it is located. The patient should also outline any family history of breast cancer, as well as any personal history of breast problems of any kind.

How does a physician confirm the presence of a breast growth?

A physician confirms the presence of a growth by taking a medical history (and asking numerous questions), performing a clinical examination that includes palpating (feeling) the breast, and interpreting the results of a diagnostic mammogram and sometimes other imaging studies such as ultrasound or MRI.

Ultrasound sends sound waves into the breast that "bounce" back to receiver that can record an image on a computer screen to visualize interior structures. This technique can help distinguish between a cyst and a solid growth. The physician may also order the laboratory analysis of any nipple discharge (other than milk) for the presence of cancerous cells. After confirming the presence of a suspicious growth, the physician orders a biopsy.

Is anesthesia needed for a biopsy?

For non-surgical biopsies, the patient may need no anesthesia at all or just a local anesthesia (one that numbs the suspicious area only). Sometimes, a patient receives a sedative (calming drug) with the local anesthesia.

For surgical biopsies, the patient may receive a local anesthesia (with or without a sedative) or general anesthesia (one that induces sleep). Patients requiring general anesthesia may have to fast 8 to 12 hours before undergoing a biopsy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2014

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Breast Biopsy - Experience Question: Describe your experience with your breast biopsy.
Breast Biopsy -- Indications Question: Did you have a breast biopsy? Please describe your experience.
Breast Biopsy - Types Question: What kind of breast biopsy procedure did you undergo? Please describe your experience.
Breast Biopsy - Suspicious Growths Question: How did you discover you had a suspicious breast growth?