When your doctor schedules you for a breast biopsy, it can create feelings of fear, worry, intimidation or stress.

It is natural to be nervous about any medical procedure. However, as much as a breast biopsy helps to diagnose cancer, it also helps rule it out. Having a biopsy does not necessarily indicate a cancer diagnosis.

What is a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some tissue from the suspicious area in the breast and examine it under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. A biopsy is most helpful when mammography, ultrasound or MRI shows a mass, a cluster of calcifications or areas of abnormal tissue enhancement.

Types of biopsy procedures

There are several types of breast biopsy options available to patients. Some are more invasive than others, but all of the options help to identify the mass or cluster found in your original diagnostic test:

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy and cyst aspiration
  • Core needle biopsy
  • Vacuum-assisted core needle biopsy
  • Stereotactic core needle biopsy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) guided core needle biopsy

To learn more about the different types of breast biopsies, click here.

How do I prepare for my breast biopsy?

At UofL Health, all breast biopsies are performed in the outpatient setting and usually take between 10-15 minutes.

If you take blood thinners, especially Coumadin (Warfarin), please let your radiologist know several days before your biopsy. In many cases, you can continue blood thinners on the day of the procedure, but you should consult with the radiologist performing your biopsy as well as your prescribing provider to minimize bleeding/bruising risks while avoiding any complications potentially arising from stopping your blood thinner. You may continue to take your other daily medications. Also, let the radiologist know if you have any drug allergies.

There are no diet restrictions on the day of your procedure, so eat and drink as usual.

Wear a supportive bra and refrain from using deodorant, lotions or powder.

When will I know the results?

After the biopsy, the tissue sample is taken to the pathology lab. Results generally take three to five business days to return. You will then receive a phone call from your provider with the results.

UofL Health offers multiple locations for mammograms and other services such as breast biopsies. To schedule a screening mammogram at UofL Health, call 502-681-1405.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, call UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center at 502-562-HOPE (4673) or visit our website at https://UoflHealth.org/Locations/Brown-Cancer-Center/.

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Article by: Ian Morley, M.D.

Ian Morley, M.D., is a breast radiologist and associate director of breast imaging at UofL Health. He sees patients at UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center, Medical Center East and Medical Center Northeast. He specializes in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer through mammography and breast MRI, ultrasound and biopsy. He attended the University of Louisville for medical school and completed an internship in Chicago at Resurrection Medical Center. He completed residency at Loyola University Medical Center in diagnostic radiology and fellowship at Indiana University in breast imaging.

All posts by Ian Morley, M.D.
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