October 2020

A biopsy is a procedure in which a piece of tissue or a sample of cells from your body is removed so that it may be analyzed in a laboratory.

Pathologists use the tissue samples to look for any abnormalities in the tissue that may give cause for concern. Biopsies are not only used for cancer but are also used to diagnose other diseases too.

In conjunction with a biopsy, your doctor may have already performed an X-ray, MRI, or CT on the area of concern.

While scans are helpful in detecting masses and other areas of abnormalities, they aren’t quite as accurate at detecting the difference between cancerous cells versus non-cancerous cells, something which a biopsy can do.

Bone marrow biopsy

As the name suggests, a sample of your bone marrow may be taken in order to diagnose a variety of blood-related problems such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

In order to perform a bone marrow biopsy, typically a sample of bone marrow is removed from the back of your hipbone using a long needle. However, your doctor may remove bone marrow from any other bones in your body.

Patients who are having a bone marrow biopsy performed will usually receive a local anesthetic before the procedure in order to minimize discomfort.

Endoscopic biopsy

An endoscopic biopsy can be described as the use of a thin, flexible tube with a light on the end in order to see inside your body. Tools are then passed through this same tube in order to take tissue samples to be analyzed.

This tube may be inserted via your mouth, rectum, urinary tract or through a small incision made in the skin. The location of the insertion will depend on where the suspicious mass is located.

For example, a common endoscopic biopsy may involve a colonoscopy, in which tissue is collected from inside of your colon. Prior to an endoscopic biopsy, a sedative or anesthetic may be administered in order to minimize discomfort.

Needle biopsy

For a needle biopsy, your doctor will typically administer some sort of local anesthetic to numb the area where the biopsy will take place so as to minimize discomfort.

There are several types of needle biopsies which may include:

Fine needle aspiration – a long, thin needle is inserted into the tissue and a syringe is used to draw out fluid and cells for analysis.

Core needle biopsy – a larger needle with a cutting tip is used to draw a column of tissue out of a suspicious area.

Vacuum-assisted biopsy – a suction device increases the fluid/cells that are extracted, thus reducing the number of times the needle must be inserted to collect a sample.

Image-guided biopsy – combines an imaging procedure (such as an X-ray or MRI) with a needle biopsy, allowing the doctor to access areas that cannot be felt through the skin (i.e. Liver, lung, prostate, etc.).

Always remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so it is best to take good care of your health to avoid any illnesses or diseases.

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