What is Biopsy

Sometimes, your doctor needs to take a sample of your body o to diagnose or confirm some illness such as cancer. When a doctor or surgeon removes some cells or tissues of the body for medical analysis, it is called a biopsy.

However, you don’t need to be afraid as most of them are not painful and are low-risk procedures. Thus, your doctor will surgically remove some part of your organ or tissue and send it for laboratory testing.

Why is a biopsy done?

Normally, a biopsy is done when you have symptoms of cancer. In that case, to confirm the condition, your doctor may take a sample of your tissue to confirm cancer.

Most of the time, a biopsy is the only way to confirm your cancer. Although the imaging tests like CT scans, X-rays, etc. can detect cancerous areas, they can still differentiate between the normal and cancerous cells.

However, keep in mind that a biopsy isn’t only performed to detect cancer, sometimes it may be helpful to detect other conditions as well. For instance, if you have a lump in your breasts, then a biopsy becomes the only way to determine whether the lump is cancer or not.

Types of biopsies

Biopsies are of various kinds. Depending on your condition and its location, your doctor will use a specific biopsy. However, for every type, your doctor will give you Anastasia to make the area numb.

Bone marrow biopsy

If you have any problem associated with the blood, then your doctor may order a bone marrow biopsy. With the help of this test, noncancerous and cancerous cells can be isolated. Furthermore, this test will let you know if your bones are affected by the cancer cells from some other body part.

Usually, a bone marrow biopsy is performed when a needle is inserted into the hip bone of a patient. As the anesthetic does not reach inside of your bones, you may feel a dull pain during the procedure.

Endoscopic biopsy

This is the type of biopsy which is employed to reach the tissues inside the body, such as the colon, lung, or bladder. In this procedure, your doctor makes use of a tube that is flexible called an endoscope. 

In the end, it has a light and a tiny camera. Because of this, your doctor can see the images of inner body parts. At the same time, your doctor inserts small surgical tools inside to remove a part of the tissue. The endoscopy can be done either via making a small incision (cut) in your body or through the openings such as the nose, mouth, rectum, or urethra. It may take about 5 to 20 minutes for your doctor to perform such a biopsy.

Needle biopsies

The tissues or skin samples that are easily accessible are removed via a needle biopsy. Needle biopsies are of various types that include core Needle biopsies, Fine needle biopsies, Image-guided biopsies, and Vacuum-assisted biopsies. 

In a core needle biopsy, your doctor uses a medium-sized needle to remove a tissue column. In a fine needle biopsy, a thin needle is attached to a syringe that helps to draw out fluids and cells. While as in Image-guided biopsies, the use of X-ray or CT scans is done that gives the doctor images of your internal organs so that a biopsy can be performed. Similarly, in Vacuum-assisted biopsies, a vacuum is used to remove the cancerous cells.

Skin biopsy

If your doctor finds something suspicious such as a lesion or a rash on your skin, then he/she may order for a biopsy to know more about that tissue. This may help detect a tumor that is present in the skin of a person.

In this procedure, your doctor uses a razor blade, or a scalpel to remove a small part of your tissue. The removed part is then sent to the laboratory to know more about this sample. This way your doctor may be able to detect any changes in these cells that normally occur in cancer.

Surgical biopsy

Sometimes, your doctor may not be able to perform a biopsy by the above-mentioned methods. At that time, your doctor may need to make a traditional incision in your affected area to get the specific tissue. For instance, if a tumor is present in the abdomen near the aorta, then a surgical biopsy may be required.

The risks of a biopsy

One of the main risks associated with a biopsy is the bleeding or risk of infection. However, the risk is much lower when a needle biopsy is performed where a small incision is made.

How do you need to prepare for a biopsy?

As a patient, you need to perform some preparations such as a clear liquid diet, bowel prep. Your doctor will share more details with you about what and what not to do before a biopsy.

Furthermore, keep in mind that you should inform your doctor about all the medications that you are taking. Certain drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and aspirin may need to be stopped before a biopsy.

Follow up care

Your doctor will analyze the tissue after he/she takes it. In some particular cases, only at the time of biopsy, this analysis may be done. For showing up the results, it may take from days to even weeks.

Your doctor may call you to share the results after they appear. He/she may discuss some necessary follow-up steps to discuss more things.

If you have cancer as per the biopsy, then your doctor will tell you about the type of cancer, its stage, and the type of cancer. However, if your biopsy was performed for some other condition, then it may show different results and an ultimately different approach may be taken to overcome the issue.

However, keep in mind that if you show negative results, then your doctor may order a biopsy again or for a different kind of biopsy to detect your condition accurately. He/she will guide you in the best possible way about the results and about the procedure to be followed. Thus, you should not hesitate to ask different questions to your doctor. You can just write down all the questions that you have and then ask your doctor the same.