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Discharge Instructions for Biopsy

A sample of tissue or cells were taken.

Recovery depends on where the biopsy was. Self-care and medicine will help you feel better.

Steps to Take

Self Care

You will receive instructions based on the type of biopsy you had.

To prevent infection at the biopsy site:

  • Clean the site as advised by your care team.
  • Wash your hands before and after cleaning the incision or changing the bandage.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • You can shower, bathe, or soak in water when the care team has said it is safe to do so.

Activity

You may need to limit certain activities. It depends on where the biopsy was done. Do not do strenuous activity or heavy lifting until the doctor says it is okay. In general:

  • Return to work when the doctor says it is okay.
  • Do not drive unless the doctor has said it is safe to do so.

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine.

When taking medicine:

  • Take your medicine as advised. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Be aware of the side effects of your medicine. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one. This includes over the counter products and supplements.

You may have stopped taking medicine before the procedure. You can take it again when your care team has said it is okay.

Follow-up

Your doctor may need to check on your progress. Be sure to go to all appointments.

Problems to Look Out For

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Excess bleeding, redness, swelling, or discharge from the biopsy site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines
  • Worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
https://www.cancer.org

American College of Surgeons
https://www.facs.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Biopsy. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/biopsy Accessed September 15, 2021.

Infections, surgical site: prevention. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed September 15, 2021.

Types of biopsies used to look for cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/tests/testing-biopsy-and-cytology-specimens-for-cancer/biopsy-types.html. Accessed September 15, 2021.

Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardMohei Abouzied, MD, FACP