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What are the Different Types of Breast Biopsy?

Breast health is of paramount importance for both men and women. When a suspicious breast mass or abnormality is detected through a mammogram or clinical examination, a breast biopsy becomes a crucial step in determining the nature of the condition. In this blog, we'll provide an in-depth overview of the various types of breast biopsies available, including stereotactic biopsy, breast mass biopsy, and biopsy for breast cysts. Understanding these procedures will empower individuals to make informed decisions about their breast health and guide them through the diagnostic process.


Understanding Breast Biopsies


A breast biopsy is a procedure performed to extract tissue samples from breast abnormalities, allowing pathologists to examine them under a microscope and provide a definitive diagnosis. This is crucial in ruling out or diagnosing breast cancer and other breast conditions. Biopsies are performed when a mammogram, ultrasound, or physical exam raises concerns about a potential abnormality.


Types of Breast Biopsy


1. Core needle biopsy:


1.1. Clinical Core Biopsy


    1. Ultrasound Core Biopsy: Uses ultrasound guidance to obtain tissue samples from suspicious areas detected during a breast ultrasound.
    2. Stereotactic Biopsy: Utilizes mammography to precisely target suspicious areas and guide the biopsy needle for tissue sampling.
  • Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy (VABB):
    1. Ultrasound-Guided VABB: Combines ultrasound imaging and a vacuum-assisted device to remove multiple tissue samples.
    2. Mammography-Guided VABB: Uses mammographic imaging and a vacuum-assisted device for tissue sampling.
    3. MRI-Guided VABB: Uses real-time MRI imaging to guide the biopsy needle and collect tissue samples.
  1. MRI-Guided Biopsy: Involves using MRI images to guide the biopsy needle and obtain tissue samples from suspicious areas identified through breast MRI.

2. Incisional Biopsy

Removes a portion of the suspicious breast tissue for further examination when the area is too large or specific analysis is required.


Fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is a procedure using a thin needle to extract cells from a suspicious area. However, FNAC is not recommended as the primary method for diagnosing breast cancer due to its limitations in providing sufficient tissue for accurate analysis. It is generally avoided because it may not provide enough information for an accurate diagnosis and could potentially miss a more significant underlying condition.


Biopsy for Breast Cysts


Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can be found within the breast tissue. Biopsy for breast cysts aims to drain the cyst or obtain fluid for analysis. Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) biopsy is often performed for cysts. During this procedure, the physician inserts a thin needle into the cyst and applies gentle suction to withdraw the fluid. This fluid is then sent for analysis to determine its composition and rule out any concerning factors.


Ultrasound-guided aspiration is another method used for biopsy of breast cysts. It involves using real-time ultrasound imaging to guide the needle directly into the cyst. This technique ensures accurate targeting and allows for precise fluid extraction.


The benefits of cyst aspiration include relieving discomfort caused by a large or painful cyst, confirming the nature of the cyst (whether it's simple or complex), and ruling out the presence of cancerous cells within the fluid. It is a relatively simple and quick procedure that can be performed in an outpatient setting.




In conclusion, understanding the various types of breast biopsies is crucial for individuals who may face the need for a diagnostic procedure. It's important to remember that the choice of biopsy method depends on various factors, including the characteristics of the abnormality and the guidance of imaging techniques. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential to determine the most appropriate biopsy approach for an individual's specific case.


By being informed about the types of breast biopsies available, individuals can feel empowered to actively participate in their breast health and make well-informed decisions regarding their diagnostic journey. Early detection through biopsies plays a vital role in diagnosing breast abnormalities, ensuring timely treatment, and improving outcomes. Stay proactive and prioritise your breast health – it's a crucial step towards overall well-being.

Dr Rajeev Agarwal
Cancer Care
Meet The Doctor
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