A core needle breast biopsy is performed to evaluate breast abnormalities. Although similar to a fine-needle biopsy, a core needle biopsy removes tissue rather than just cells. Through microscopic analysis of this tissue, a determination can be made as to whether or not a malignancy is present.
Reasons for Core Needle Breast Biopsy
When an unexplained lump in breast tissue is found, or when an unusual mark or mass shows up on a mammogram or during an ultrasound exam, a core needle biopsy may be performed to determine whether the lump is benign or malignant. Each year, more than a million women in the United States undergo this procedure. Seventy to eighty percent of them find that the abnormalities palpated or viewed are benign. Still, because 20 to 30 percent of these biopsies result in the discovery of a malignancy, the procedure is worthwhile. Although it happens rarely, men as well as women may be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Core Needle Breast Biopsy Procedure
A hollow needle is inserted into the affected breast tissue, and a piece of the tissue is extracted. Imaging techniques may be used to help direct the needle to correct area. The breast-tissue sample extracted is very small, approximately the size of a grain of rice.
The tissue sample is then sent to a pathology lab for evaluation. The lab issues a pathology report that includes details such as the abnormal tissue's specific location, whether or not there is cancerous tissue present, and the chemical makeup of the tissue extracted.
Recovery from a Core Needle Breast Biopsy
Recovery from a core needle biopsy is rapid. The patient is advised to rest for the remainder of the day. Normal activities may be resumed the following day. There may be some bruising and discomfort, for which the following treatments are recommended:
- Ice pack application
- Over-the-counter painkillers
Results of a Core Needle Breast Biopsy
As with any biopsy, results may not be available until a few days after the procedure. In most cases, the results of the pathology report are negative for cancer. In the event that breast cancer is diagnosed, there will be necessary follow-up treatment, such as a lumpectomy. The report will include specific details on the malignancy so that an effective treatment plan can be started as soon as possible. On occasion, the results will be inconclusive, requiring additional testing to determine whether or not cancer is present.