While breast clinical exams, regular mammograms and self exams are useful to detect the first lumps or abnormality in the breast, it is a biopsy that is the definitive breast cancer test to confirm diagnosis.
A biopsy, which extracts abnormal tissue from the breast and examines it under a microscope, is required to determine how malignant or cancerous the growth is.
What type of breast cancer test is a biopsy?
Typically a woman is the first to notice something amiss or she has undergone a mammography that detected some breast abnormality. In either case it is far from certain that what has been detected is in fact cancer because in a large number of cases the growth may be benign and noninvasive and simply a part of normal body changes.
So a tissue sample of the abnormality is usually required be extracted and examined to see whether or not the lump or growth is cancerous. A biopsy is advisable for anyone who has been detected with abnormalities in the breast.
This type of breast cancer test will indicate whether the growth is a cyst, (fluid filled, marble like structures beneath the skin), or if it is something formed by dead fat cells (after trauma to the breast and so on), or a fibroadenoma (other benign growths) or whether it is malignant and invasive.
The biopsy will also decide what direction the treatment will take.
Types of breast cancer test or biopsy
Fine Needle Aspiration is a procedure that requires a fine needle to be inserted into the abnormal tissue of the breast to extract a small amount of the tissue. If it is known that it is a cyst rather than a solid mass, fine needle aspiration may also help to resolve the cyst my deflating it. this method may not work if the tumor tissue is very hard and cannot be drawn into a fine needle.
Core Needle Biopsy requires use of a special needle which is hollow to draw out the material for the breast cancer test. Here as well, a small amount of tissue is extracted, however in some cases, suction is used to extract more of the tissue for examination.
A vacuum assisted breast biopsy requires a small incision to be made in the skin using a special instrument for extraction. This is a less invasive procedure than a open or surgical biopsy but is more able to extract more amount of the tissue than with a core biopsy or a fine needle aspiration.
Open or Surgical Biopsy makes an incision into the skin to extract a part of the lump or may excise the lump in its entirety. This kind of test may be both the test and the treatment.
Sometimes additional imaging technique and breast cancer test may be needed to exactly locate the tumor or lump if it is not palpable. CAT scans, MRIs and additional mammograms will help to locate the tumor. In some cases an additional biopsy may be required to make a complete diagnosis.