What is a biopsy?
During a biopsy, a doctor removes a sample of tissue or fluid from the body. A pathologist inspects the cells under a microscope to see if they are cancerous. If the cells are found to be cancerous, a biopsy can help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy, or if it started somewhere else in the body and spread to the biopsy site.
Some biopsies are performed under image guidance, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This allows your doctor to collect cells from deeper inside the body. Depending on the type of biopsy performed, you will receive an anesthetic to minimize any pain.
Biopsy medical animation
Video: Biopsy Medical AnimationMedical animation
Biopsy for adrenal cancer
Tissue samples (biopsies) of adrenal tumors are generally not taken before surgery. This is particularly the case with adrenocortical carcinoma, as a needle biopsy of this type of adrenal cancer can spread tumor cells. More often, doctors determine the likelihood that an adrenal tumor is cancerous based on the tumor’s size and features, as depicted in various diagnostic imaging tests.
If doctors determine from the imaging tests that a tumor is present in the adrenal glands and that tumors exist outside of the glands, a biopsy may be taken from the area to which disease appears to have spread. For example, if a mass appears in the liver, doctors may obtain a biopsy of it through a fine needle. The biopsy is then analyzed in a laboratory to determine if it contains adrenal cells. If cells from the adrenal glands are present in the liver biopsy, an adrenal cancer diagnosis can be confirmed.