Breast Surgical Biopsy
(Biopsy, Breast Surgical; Breast Open Biopsy; Biopsy, Breast Open; Breast Needle Localization; Localization, Breast Needle)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
Breast surgical biopsy is surgery to remove all or part of a breast mass. A lab will check the sample to see if there is something unusual about it.
Reasons for Procedure
Breast surgical biopsy is done to look at a suspicious part of the breast. It can find out of the spot is cancerous or not.
It may be done if there is:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over problems that could happen, such as::
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The doctor may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
Description of the Procedure
There are a few ways the doctor can remove the mass:
Open Breast Biopsy
A small incision will be made over the area. Part or all of the mass will be removed. The site will be closed with stitches or staples. It will be bandaged.
This method is used if the mass cannot be felt. Imaging is used to guide a fine wire to the breast through a needle. The wire will point to the spot that needs to be removed. A small cut will be made and the mass will be removed.
How Long Will It Take?
1 to 3 hours
Will It Hurt?
There will be some discomfort after the procedure. Medicine will help.
Average Hospital Stay
Most can home the same day.
At the Hospital
Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicine.
During your stay, staff will take steps to control your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
Pain should go away in a week or so. Swelling may last for a few weeks or months. Some activities may be limited during this time.
It will take about 2 to 5 days to get test results.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
Canadian Breast Cancer Network
Canadian Cancer Society
Breast biopsy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-biopsy.html. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Breast cancer—health professional version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/hp. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/breast-cancer-in-women. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Kalambo M, Dogan BE, et al. Step by step: Planning a needle localization procedure. Clin Imaging. 2020;60(1):100-108.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 9/21/2021
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