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Breast Cancer

Questions to Ask Before a Breast Biopsy

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There are different types of breast biopsies. It's important to understand the type of biopsy you’ll have and what you can expect during and after the biopsy.

Here are some questions you might want to ask before having a breast biopsy:

  • What type of biopsy do you think I need? Why?
  • Will the size of my breast affect the way the biopsy is done?
  • Where will the biopsy be done?
  • What exactly will you do?
  • How much breast tissue will you remove?
  • How long will it take?
  • Will I be awake or asleep during the biopsy?
  • Will the biopsy area be numbed?
  • If you can’t feel the abnormal area in my breast, how will you find it?
  • If you are using a guide wire to help find the abnormal area, how will you make sure it’s in the right place (with ultrasound or a mammogram)?
  • Will I need someone to help me get home afterward?
  • Will I have a hole there afterward? Will it show?
  • Will my breast have a different shape or look different afterward?
  • Will you put a clip or marker in my breast? If so, what will happen to it?
  • Will I have a scar? Where will it be? What will it look like?
  • Will I have bruising or changes in the color of my skin? If so, how long will it last?
  • Will I be sore? If so, how long will it last?
  • Might I have any other types of problems after the biopsy? Are there any I'd need to call your office about?
  • When can I take off the bandage?
  • When can I take a shower or bath?
  • Will I have stitches? Will they dissolve or will I need to come back to the office and have them removed?
  • When can I go back to work? How will I feel when I do?
  • Do I need to limit activities like lifting things or raising my arm? If so, for how long?
  • How soon will we know the biopsy results?
  • Should I call you or will you call me with the results?
  • Will you or someone else explain the biopsy results to me?

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: January 14, 2022

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