A biopsy removes a small tissue sample. Taking a biopsy can help doctors confirm or exclude the presence of cancer. There are several types of biopsies:
- Core needle biopsy uses a large needle to withdraw a small cylinder — or core — of tissue.
- Endoscopic biopsy uses an endoscope to view and take samples from inside the body.
- Fine needle aspiration biopsy uses a thin needle to withdraw a sample of cells.
- Punch biopsy uses a tool to take a tissue sample from below the skin.
- Shave biopsy scrapes tissue from the surface of the skin.
- Surgical biopsy involves an incision through the skin to remove a sample of tissue.
- Vacuum-assisted biopsy uses a probe to withdraw multiple core biopsies through one small incision.
Depending on the biopsy type, you may or may not need anesthesia. Doctors may use imaging techniques, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI, during a biopsy to precisely locate the area to sample. The doctor needs to close the incision site with sutures or other material for some types of biopsy, such as a punch or surgical biopsy. After a biopsy, your doctor will send the tissue sample to a pathologist who will determine whether cancer is present.
At the Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, you can trust our oncologists and pathologists to take the utmost care when performing and analyzing your biopsy. If you are interested in getting a biopsy in Arizona, Find a Doctor near you today or call (602) 406-8222.
Biopsies at Dignity Health: What to Expect
Your doctor may recommend a biopsy if he or she suspects a problem based on your physical exam or other tests. Biopsies are usually performed to determine if cancer is present, but doctors also biopsy tissue to diagnose other diseases and conditions. Who performs your biopsy, where it takes place, and how long it takes will also depend on the type of biopsy.
The risks and potential complications vary with the specific biopsy method and the affected area or organ. However, the vast majority of biopsies are free of complications. Talk with your doctor about your specific risks and how to minimize them.
Recovery after Biopsies
The length of time you need to recover depends on the type of biopsy. Talk with your care team about pain management and care of the biopsy site. For many biopsies, over-the-counter pain medicine and ice packs are enough to ease pain and reduce swelling. Your cancer care team will give you a list of infection symptoms to watch for.
The results of your biopsy will guide your next steps. If the results are benign (not cancer), no further treatment may be necessary. In other cases, your doctor may recommend additional surgeries or treatments. If cancer is found during the biopsy, your doctor may choose to remove more tissue at that time.
Dignity Health provides cutting-edge diagnostic cancer testing, including biopsies in Arizona.