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What is a Breast Biopsy


A breast biopsy is a sampling of breast tissue from an area identified as abnormal by a mammogram, ultrasound, or physical examination. This tissue is obtained by a variety of methods and studied carefully under the microscope by a pathologist.

What are the different methods of obtaining a breast biopsy?

Surgeons can perform an aspiration of a palpable breast lesion using a fine needle to aspirate out individual cells. Radiologists using a fine needle aspiration technique, guided by ultrasound, may obtain breast tissue from a very small lesion. Radiologists can also obtain thin cores of tissue (core biopsies) by ultrasound or stereotactic guidance. Surgery is usually necessary to remove larger or more complex breast lesions. This may be in the form of an excisional biopsy or lumpectomy, which may be first localized by a, wire guide in radiology, prior to its removal by a surgeon.

Who interprets the breast biopsy?

A board certified surgical pathologist interprets all the breast tissue from the various types of aspiration and biopsies. A surgical pathologist is a physician specially trained to examine biopsies under the microscope. At South Coast Medical Center, we have three surgical pathologists who are also pathology instructors at UCI School of Medicine.

How will the microscopic examination of my biopsy at South Coast Medical Center differ from that of most other institutions?

Your breast biopsy, whether obtained by fine needle aspiration, core biopsy, or excisional biopsy, will be reviewed by at least two surgical pathologists. This includes all benign, intermediate, or malignant lesions.

Why do you have two pathologists reviewing breast biopsies?

We consider the breast biopsy to be an important component of breast care. The biopsy is telling us a part of “your breast history” and we want to be sure that two pathologists agree upon the microscopic findings of the biopsy two independent examinations of the same biopsy increase the sensitivity and accuracy of the diagnosis.

What are our goals when reading your breast biopsy?

Your biopsy will have the attention of two pathologists whose goal is t provide you with the most accurate classification of your breast lesion. As in reading a book it is important for the pathologist t be able to tell your “story” to those physicians caring for you in a manner and style that is clear, precise, and meaningful. We work closely with a team of cancer specialists to correlate our findings in order to arrive at a meaningful interpretation.

Our Breast Biopsy Services:
  • Accept most health care insurance, including Monarch Health Care
  • Offer preoperative review of biopsies
  • Offer second opinions on biopsies, usually covered by insurance
  • Provide review of all breast biopsies by two board certified surgical pathologists
  • Use Stanford Pathology Consultants to review the occasional controversial biopsy









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