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Fine Needle Aspiration for Breast Biopsy

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During breast examination, if a palpable mass is observed, the doctor may suggest carrying out a biopsy of the lump. There are different types of biopsy procedures. These procedures include:

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB)
  • Core needle biopsy
  • Surgical biopsy

The choice of biopsy carried out depends on various procedures. These include how big is the lump, where is it located in the breast, is it a suspicious tumor as well as the patient’s personal choice.

Usually, core needle biopsy is preferred for biopsy. However, fine needle aspiration is carried out as it is quicker and the best way to take a sample of the lump felt during the breast examination.

What is a Fine Needle Aspiration for Breast Biopsy?

Fine needle aspiration for breast biopsy is also called as fine needle biopsy. It is used to remove suspicious cells present of the breast lump. The needle used for fine needle aspiration is very fine and thinner than the one used in core needle biopsy.

During the procedure, a fine needle is inserted at the site of the breast lump and some of the fluid or cells from the lesion or cyst are removed. The procedure is similar to giving a blood sample for a blood test.

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The sample fluid is taken and smeared on a slide and examined by a specialist under a microscope. It will help the doctor understand if the lesion is cancerous or benign and take necessary action for treatment.

The fine needle aspiration for breast biopsy can also be carried out to draw fluid out of a harmless cyst (aspirate a cyst). This is done when the cysts become very large and painful.

In case the lump is deep within the breast and cannot be felt on the skin, then the doctor may use ultrasound to guide the needle towards the cysts.

Is There Any Preparation Needed to Carry Out FNAB?

You do not need to undergo any special preparation before undergoing a fine needle aspiration. It is usually done immediately after the doctor carries out a medical examination or a mammogram or ultrasound.

The procedure is simple, but can be quite uncomfortable. Thus, it will be better if you call over a friend or relative along for some support before or after the FNAB procedure.

What Happens During the FNAB Procedure?

The area near the cysts or lump will be cleaned before the needle is inserted into the breast. In some cases, the doctor may give the patient a local anesthetic to numb the area. This is done, especially if the lump is situated deep within the breast.

The doctor will hold the lump in one hand and insert the needle. The needle may be moved in and out of the lump to find enough tissue or fluid. Then, the plunger will be gently pulled back to remove the tissue or fluid. The needle will be removed and pressure will be applied on the area to prevent any bleeding.

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If the lump cannot be felt, then an ultrasound scan, mammography or CT scan will be used to guide the needle towards the lump.

Advantages of FNAB Procedure

The procedure gives accurate results when carried out by an experienced cytopathologist or a doctor. The chances of infection or bruising are quite less as compared to core needle biopsy.

Disadvantages of FNAB Procedure

Fine needle aspiration for breast biopsy can miss cancer cells and pick up only normal cells. Thus, there are chances of getting a false negative result, when there is cancer.

The procedure gives very limited information related to the tumor. One cannot explain if the tumor is an invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ. Also, an experienced cytopathologist is required to check the cells removed by this procedure. All hospitals may not have an experienced cytopathologist to carry out the test.

Fine needle aspiration for breast biopsy is found to be 80 to 85% accurate. Speak to your doctor in detail about FNAB and get all your doubts cleared before going in for the procedure.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: March 02, 2015