What Percentage of Breast Biopsies Are Cancer?

Are you worried about being diagnosed with breast cancer? You’re not alone. Recent statistics have shown that one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. But how likely is it for a suspicious lump to turn out to be cancerous? 

Let’s dive into what percentage of breast biopsies are actually cancer, and explore the different scenarios that can arise from the results.

What is a breast biopsy? 

A breast biopsy is a procedure in which small samples of tissue are taken from the breast to be examined in a laboratory. It is important to determine if the cells are cancerous or benign (not cancerous) in order to come up with an accurate treatment plan. Breast biopsies are also considered as one of the most common tests used to diagnose breast cancer and rule out other conditions.

When would a doctor recommend a breast biopsy?

Generally, if abnormalities in the breasts are found during a physical examination or after a mammogram, doctors would advise the patient to perform a breast biopsy for further evaluations. 

Physicians may recommend a breast biopsy if the patient has felt something unusual such as a lump or thickened area and wants to confirm what it is or if the doctor notices something suspicious during an examination or imaging test. 

In addition, women with dense breasts often require additional testing as mammograms can be less accurate due to overlapping tissue within their breasts.

How is a breast biopsy performed?

The most common technique used to perform a breast biopsy is called Core Needle Biopsy (CNB). It is categorized as an outpatient diagnostic procedure that removes tissue from the breast, which is done using needles guided by ultrasound imaging. The tissue extracted would be examined under a microscope for assessment. 

In order to make a good assessment, the pathologist will look at several factors; such as the size and shape of cells, arrangement of cells, overall pattern and behaviour exhibited by the cells. All these help in determining if it’s cancerous or not.

What are the chances of the biopsies to be cancerous? 

In general, about 8 out of 10 biopsies done on women’s breasts are noncancerous. However, approximately 20 percent of biopsies tell us that there is indeed cancer present within that particular area being studied.  So while it can be nerve-wracking waiting for test results after having a breast biopsy performed, it’s important to remember that the majority of cases come back with positive news—namely that there’s no sign of cancer present.

What are the risk of undergoing a breast biopsy? 

In addition, there may be other risks associated with getting a breast biopsy such as scarring and infections. Yet, these risks tend to be very low and can often be easily managed by your healthcare provider. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that many people are understandably anxious or scared when facing any type of medical procedure. It is normal for those feelings to linger even into recovery time. 

Your provider can provide support and advice and should monitor the situation closely while you work through the aftermath of the procedure- both physically and psychologically.

What to prepare before undergoing a breast biopsy? 

Having a breast biopsy is likely to be a confusing and overwhelming experience, and it is important to be well-prepared for the procedure in order to have the best possible outcome. 

Before having a breast biopsy, there are some pre-biopsy preparations like following any specific instructions from your doctor and avoiding certain supplements or medications (like anti-inflammatory drugs), that should be taken into account. Additionally, it may be necessary for you to undergo imaging tests like an ultrasound or mammogram ahead of time so that the doctor can get an idea of where exactly the tissue needs to be biopsied and what kind of method will be used. 

It is also important for women to take care of themselves prior to having a breast biopsy by getting plenty of rest, eating healthy food and drinking water so as to make sure their body has essential nutrients. Also, don’t forget that stress can affect your health too! So try relaxation methods such as deep breathing exercises or meditation before the procedure.

Lastly, it is recommended that you wear comfortable clothing such as button-down shirts or front closure bras the day of so that these areas can be easily accessed during your appointment. 

What if the breast biopsy test result is positive? 

It’s important to understand that even if a breast biopsy result comes back positive for cancer, it doesn’t necessarily mean the patient has advanced or stage IV breast cancer. 

In fact, even if your doctor does diagnose you with cancer after a biopsy, it still may be at an early stage that can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and/or hormonal therapy without chemotherapy being necessary.

Medical procedures have improved leaps and bounds over the years. Many diseases considered as fatal and beyond repair could now be cured with surgeries and medicines. So stay hopeful and know that everything has a solution. Your doctor and nurses will guide you through the way. It is important to inform your loved ones so they could provide emotional support to you as well. 

When would you get the results after a breast biopsy?

After a breast biopsy, it’s important to know what to expect in the days and weeks that follow. The results of a biopsy may take several days or weeks to come back, but when they do, you’ll receive a pathology report that tells you whether or not cancer was found. Depending on the results of your breast biopsy, your physician may recommend further treatment such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. 

When analyzing the pathology report from a breast biopsy, your doctor will look at two things—laboratory measurements of cell type and cell growth rate; and how the sample appears under analysis from a microscope. Generally speaking, only about 20 percent of all breast biopsies show a diagnosis of cancer. The majority of biopsies find either benign (non-cancerous) conditions or no evidence of disease (abnormal cells were identified but not considered to be cancerous). In other words, about 4 out of 5 breast biopsies are benign (not cancer). 

In summary, while it’s impossible to predict the outcome before you undergo a breast biopsy procedure, most women will find out after the fact that their tests indicate either no evidence of disease or benign non-cancerous conditions. In any case though, all women should continue with regular screenings as advised by their physician to ensure early detection if any abnormalities arise in the future.

Leave a Comment