Mammography cannot prove that a specific area seen on x-ray film is cancer. If mammography raises a significant suspicion of cancer, then a biopsy — a sample of cells or tissue removed by a pathologist for microscopic examination — is needed to tell whether the area in question is cancerous or not.
For years, surgical biopsy, involving an incision in the skin of the breast and removal of the abnormal tissue along with a small piece of normal tissue, was the only option available to make this determination.
Today, many suspicious breast abnormalities can be diagnosed without surgery by using needle biopsy. There are two types of needle biopsies — fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) and core needle fragments of tissue (CNB).
What To Expect
At Chattanooga Imaging we use a needle to remove a cylindrical piece of tissue about 1/16-inch in diameter and 1/2-inch long. If the breast mass is large enough to feel, the physician can guide placement of the biopsy needle by touch. Even if an abnormality is too small to be felt, FNAB or CNB can still be done using ultrasound. During an ultrasound examination, the physician can view the needle on a TV monitor as it moves toward and into the mass.
No special preparation is required for these exams. Wear comfortable clothing with separate top and bottom. This will eliminate the need to remove your entire outfit for the procedure.