Should an abnormality be found in your breast, it may be determined that you need to have a biopsy. There are several different types of biopsies:

Stereotactic Biopsy

A Stereotactic needle biopsy is a newer method used when the physician cannot feel the lump that was found on a mammogram. A Stereotactic Biopsy uses mammographic images and computer technology and combines them to determine the exact location of an abnormality to obtain a sample of breast tissue. In this way, non-surgical techniques are used to determine whether an abnormality is cancerous. This procedure is equally as accurate as surgical biopsy, without the scar and anesthetic risks of surgery.

The patient lies facedown on a special table with an opening for the breast. Using special equipment, the breast is compressed similarly to a mammogram but with less compression, and then x-rayed from several angles. The data is entered into a computer, and then a radiologist inserts a biopsy needle into the lump.

After the tissue is obtained it is examined by the pathologist and a diagnosis is made. It is important to remember that 80percent of breast biopsies result in a benign (not cancerous) finding.

Fine Needle Aspiration

Fine needle aspiration involves inserting a very fine, hollow needle into a cyst to remove some fluid or tissue for examination by a pathologist.

Core Needle Biopsy

Core needle biopsy utilizes a larger needle inserted into the breast mass to remove tissue for examination.

Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy

An ultrasound-guided biopsy uses ultrasound to identify and accurately target the abnormality and obtain a sample of tissue. These procedures are virtually painless and essentially leave no visible scar.

Ductogram (or Galactography)

A ductogram is used to pinpoint breast duct blockages and to examine the nipple discharge (fluid from the nipple). This procedure allows the physician to image the inside of the breast ducts to evaluate the cause of the nipple discharge as well as to guide surgery should it be necessary.

Ductal Lavage

Ductal Lavage is a relatively new, minimally invasive FDA-approved procedure being used for women who are considered at high risk of developing breast cancer. The doctor inserts a catheter into a milk duct and withdraws a sampling of cells. Following collection of the cells, the doctor performs tests to determine whether there are any precancerous or cancerous cells. In this way, cancer may be diagnosed before a mammography or physical examination identifies any signs of cancer. For more information, visit

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