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.
More on biopsies
Compared to other diagnostic tests for cancer, biopsies often provide a more definitive diagnosis. A biopsy can help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy sample, or if it started somewhere else in the body and spread to the site of the biopsy sample.
Some sites that are commonly biopsied include the breast, skin, bone marrow, GI tract, lung, liver, bladder, colon, and lymph nodes. Our cancer doctors determine the most appropriate method of biopsy based on several factors, such as the size, shape, location, and characteristics of the abnormality.