Cancer Biopsy



A biopsy is the main way doctors diagnose most types of cancer. Other tests can suggest that cancer is present, but only a biopsy can make a diagnosis.

During a biopsy, a doctor removes a small amount of tissue to examine under a microscope

Need for biopsy

A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnosis most cancers. Imaging tests like CT scans and X-rays can help identify areas of concerns, but they cannot differentiate between cancerous and noncancerous cells.

Biopsies are typically associated with cancer, but just because your doctor orders a biopsy, it does not mean that you have cancer. Doctors use biopsies to test whether abnormalities in your body are caused by cancer or by other conditions.

Types of Biopsies

Bone marrow biopsy: A small sample of bone marrow (usually from the hip) is removed via a slender needle. This type of biopsy helps to diagnose diseases such as leukemia.

Colposcopy-directed biopsy: A colposcope is a small microscope used to examine a woman’s cervix while a tissue sample is taken. This biopsy is usually performed to investigate the reasons for an abnormal pap test result.

Endoscopic biopsy: The endoscope is a flexible tube that can be inserted into an orifice (such as the mouth or anus) or through a small skin incision. Once the lump is reached, cutting tools are threaded through the endoscope so that a sample of tissue can be taken.

Excisional biopsy: The lump is entirely removed. Depending on the location of the lump, the patient may need to undergo general anesthesia. This type of biopsy may be used for breast lumps.

Incisional biopsy: Only a small slice of the lump is removed. Depending on the location of the lump, a general or local anesthetic may be needed. This type of biopsy may be used for lumps located in connective tissue such as muscle.

Needle biopsy: A small sample of the lump is removed via a slender hypodermic needle. This can be done either with or without local anesthetic. This type of biopsy may be used to diagnose conditions of the liver or thyroid.

Punch biopsy: A special tool is used to punch a hole through the uppermost layers of the skin. The anesthetic used may be local or topical. This type of biopsy can help diagnose various skin conditions.

Stereotactic biopsy: A series of x-rays help to guide the surgeon’s needle to the lump. This type of biopsy is usually performed whenever the lump is hard to see or feel.

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Journal of Molecular Oncology Research