Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Biopsy for bone cancer

Biopsy for bone cancer

Two biopsy techniques used for bone cancer detection include:

  • Needle biopsy: For this type of biopsy, your doctor will numb the area with a local anesthetic before inserting a needle into the suspected site to get a sample of cells. In some cases, a CT scan may be used to help guide the needle.
  • Surgical biopsy: This type of biopsy is generally performed under general anesthesia by a surgeon, who will remove a sample of the tissue (incisional biopsy) or the whole tumor (excisional biopsy).

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. 

Some biopsies are performed endoscopically, others under image guidance, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the radiology suite. In some cases, biopsies are performed in the operating suite. 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 reduce discomfort.

Compared with other diagnostic tests for cancer, biopsies often provide a more definitive diagnosis. A biopsy may help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy sample, or if it started somewhere else in the body.

Some sites that are commonly biopsied include the breast, skin, bone marrow, GI tract, lung, liver, bladder, colon and lymph nodes. Our doctors determine the most appropriate method of biopsy based on several factors, such as the size, shape, location, and characteristics of the abnormality.

Biopsy medical animation