What to Expect During and After a Breast Cancer Biopsy Procedure

A breast cancer biopsy is a procedure that is performed to determine whether there are cancerous cells present in the breast tissue. It involves removing a small amount of suspicious tissue for examination under a microscope. This procedure is often recommended after a mammogram or ultrasound reveals a suspicious lump or abnormality in the breast.

The thought of undergoing a breast cancer biopsy can be scary and overwhelming. However, knowing what to expect during and after the procedure can help alleviate some of the anxiety.

During the Biopsy Procedure

The biopsy can be done in different ways, depending on the size and location of the lump or abnormality. The most common types of breast cancer biopsy procedures include:

1. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy: This is a quick and minimally invasive procedure that involves inserting a thin needle into the lump or mass to withdraw a small sample of cells.

2. Core needle biopsy: This involves inserting a larger needle into the breast tissue to obtain a small sample of tissue.

3. Surgical biopsy: A surgical biopsy involves removing a larger portion of tissue from the breast under local or general anesthesia.

Before the procedure, the doctor will explain which type of biopsy will be performed and what steps will be taken to ensure your comfort. You will also be asked to sign a consent form.

During the biopsy, the doctor will use imaging technology, such as mammography or ultrasound, to guide the needle or surgical instrument to the precise location of the suspicious tissue. The patient may feel some pressure or discomfort during the procedure, but local anesthesia can help alleviate any pain.

After the Biopsy Procedure

After the procedure, the patient may experience some tenderness, bruising, or swelling in the area where the biopsy was performed. Ice packs and over-the-counter pain medications can help relieve any discomfort.

The biopsy sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing by a pathologist, who will examine the cells and determine whether they are cancerous or benign. Results will typically be available within a few days to a week.

If the results of the biopsy indicate cancerous cells, the patient will be referred to an oncologist for further evaluation and treatment options. If the biopsy reveals no cancerous cells, the patient may be advised to return for follow-up exams and screenings.


While a breast cancer biopsy can be a scary and uncomfortable experience, it is an important step in the detection and treatment of breast cancer. Knowing what to expect during and after the procedure can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with this procedure. If you have any questions or concerns about your biopsy, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor.

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