The Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s Health Center stands out for its advanced capabilities and immediate access to genetics and pathology services. With state-of-the-art technology and a multidisciplinary team of experts, including radiologists, pathologists, and surgeons, the center ensures prompt and accurate diagnosis, personalized treatment planning, and comprehensive support for patients throughout their breast cancer journey.

Each member of the team plays a crucial role in the biopsy procedure, from the initial evaluation to the interpretation of the biopsy results. During breast evaluation, which may include one or more breast imaging methods, such as ultrasound or mammogram, a breast tissue biopsy may be recommended to identify the likelihood of cancer. Biopsy is a necessary step even though most breast conditions are benign (non-cancerous). These conditions can include fibroadenomas, cysts, and other types of benign tumors. While these conditions are not cancerous, they may still require a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis.

What is a Breast Biopsy?

Breast biopsy provides confirmation of cancer in support of early detection.

Breast biopsy is a crucial diagnostic procedure for identifying and confirming breast cancer. Among various biopsy techniques, the gold standard is the core-needle biopsy. This method involves removing tissue samples from the suspicious area using a hollow needle, allowing for a more accurate diagnosis than older techniques like fine-needle aspiration.

Core-needle Biopsy

Core-needle biopsy, our preferred method, provides a substantial tissue sample for our pathologists to examine the tissue’s architecture and detect abnormalities with high precision. This method significantly reduces the risk of sampling errors, ensuring an accurate diagnosis. Its effectiveness in early detection and treatment planning for breast cancer makes it an essential part of our comprehensive care. At the Margie Petersen Breast Center, we strive to perform your biopsy on the same day as your breast evaluation, ensuring your journey is as smooth and efficient as possible.


Surgical Biopsy

In some cases, where the location of the tissue to be sampled may be challenging to access, a surgical breast biopsy becomes necessary, mainly when core-needle biopsy results are inconclusive or when the lesion is beyond the reach of needle extraction. Surgical biopsy is performed in the hospital, which involves the removal of the entire suspicious area along with surrounding tissue for thorough examination. In general, small lumps will be completely removed (excisional biopsy). If the lump is large, only a sample will be taken (incisional biopsy). Even though this is considered surgery, this type of biopsy is generally performed on an outpatient basis. The surgical method ensures a more definitive diagnosis and allows for more comprehensive treatment planning.

What is involved with Breast Biopsy?

core-needle biopsy - breast cancer
Biopsy may be performed with imaging to help localize the lesion.

The typical steps involved in breast biopsy procedures include localization of the suspicious area through imaging techniques such as ultrasound, mammography, or MRI. Different guidance methods may be employed depending on the location and characteristics of the lesion. For example, an ultrasound-guided biopsy is used for lesions that are easily visible on ultrasound. This involves the use of real-time ultrasound imaging to guide the needle to the correct location.

A stereotactic biopsy, on the other hand, is preferred for lesions detected on mammography. This method uses a special mammography machine to guide the needle to the lesion. Lastly, an MRI-guided biopsy is used for cases where lesions are only visible on MRI scans. This method uses the MRI machine to guide the needle to the lesion.


Managing Side Effects

During the biopsy procedure, local anesthesia is applied to numb the area, minimizing discomfort for the patient. The needle is then inserted into the breast to obtain tissue samples sent to a pathology laboratory for analysis. While the procedure is relatively safe, it’s important to note that like any medical procedure, there are potential risks and complications. These can include infection, bleeding, and rarely, damage to nearby structures. However, these risks are minimal and can be managed effectively. Patients may also experience minor side effects such as bruising, swelling, or mild discomfort at the biopsy site, which typically resolve within a few days. Most patients do well with applying ice, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as Extra Strength Tylenol, and wearing a supportive bra if desired for symptomatic relief of the discomfort. A hematoma (localized bruising beneath the skin) may form in the biopsy area. A hematoma is a small collection of blood outside of a blood vessel caused by trauma, surgery, or disease. It usually resolves itself over time.

Once the pathology (lab work) of the biopsy is completed, your doctor will present the results to you. This process usually takes a few days, but the exact time can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the workload of the pathology laboratory. Your doctor will provide additional information if needed and discuss the next steps in your treatment plan.


Contact the Margie Petersen Breast Center

Margie Petersen Breast Team
The Margie Petersen Breast Center Team

The Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center is widely renown for its outstanding and compassionate patient care, expert surgical and medical team, and ability to fully evaluate any breast condition in one day.

Meet Our Breast Health Experts

The Breast Health Clinic can be reached at (310) 582-7209. If you have questions regarding a new symptom or want to make an appointment for evaluation please call and a staff member will assist with navigating you in the right direction.

Schedule an Appointment For more information