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The Biopsy Guidebook: Types, Why You Need It & What to Expect

The image illustrates a biopsy procedure used to diagnose cancer.
Anderson Team
April 20, 2023
Est. Reading: 5 minutes

In medical diagnosis, the term “Biopsy” may incite fear, panic, and uncertainty in people’s minds. Also, the biopsy test cost might be another reason to get concerned about. However, there is no need for any worry.

A biopsy is a medical diagnostic procedure performed to establish or eliminate the possibility of specific health conditions based on the presence or absence of abnormal cells in tissue samples. And, it can be done at affordable costs at Anderson Diagnostics, Chennai.

Taking a Closer Look At The Biopsy: Why Are They Done?

Generally, doctors may recommend biopsies if they suspect a cancerous growth in the body. However, biopsies are also suggested to rule out:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Infections
  • Inflammations.
  • Blood cell conditions
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Anemia
  • Endometriosis
  • Kidney diseases
  • Peptic ulcers

In fact, nerve and muscle biopsies are done to diagnose certain conditions. In short, biopsies give more profound insight into whether the person has concerning symptoms or if the preliminary test results are worrying. Sometimes, biopsies also serve as a preventive measure when the procedure involves the removal of suspicious-looking polyps, nodules, or lumps in their entirety.

In other cases, doctors resort to biopsies to ascertain the following symptoms:

  • Lumps or masses in the breast may indicate breast cancer (usually detected in mammograms).
  • Moles on the skin that have recently changed shape (indicating possible melanoma.)
  • Chronic Hepatitis may indicate Cirrhosis of the liver.

What Happens During a Biopsy? Is the Biopsy Test Cost Affordable?

A biopsy collects sample tissues or cells from the affected body area. The sample is then sent to a laboratory where further tests are conducted to gather conclusive information about the disease or condition.

Most cancers are, in fact, more accurately diagnosed only through biopsies because the procedure examines the cells more accurately. Sometimes doctors may suggest Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to detect abnormal growths or tissues in the body. However, these diagnostic tests cannot differentiate between normal and cancerous cells. In such cases, a biopsy is the only way possible to make a definitive diagnosis of the condition.

Although “biopsy” is generic, it is performed in various ways. Generally, the procedure is done in a doctor’s office, but sometimes it may be done in an operating room with more sophisticated surgical settings. During a biopsy, the sample tissue or cells are collected directly from where the suspected lump or growth is present. Usually, the biopsy test cost comes within the affordable range itself.

Let’s look at the different types of biopsies that are commonly performed.

4 Commonly Known Biopsy Methods: How & Why Are They Done?

1. Bone Marrow Biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy aims to diagnose cancerous and non-cancerous problems related to the blood. This type of biopsy is most helpful in diagnosing blood-related cancers like:

  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Lymphoma

It also helps detect cancers originating elsewhere in the body and metastasizing to the bone marrow.

As the name suggests, a bone marrow biopsy is done to collect a sample of the bone marrow, the spongy material inside the center of large bones. The bone marrow sample is usually collected from the back of the hip bone or the sternum using a long needle. The person is given an anesthetic to numb the pain and discomfort during the process. The collected sample is tested further to reveal the reason behind the blood disorder or disease.

2. Needle Biopsy

The name of this biopsy is self-explanatory. In this procedure, a long, thin, hollow needle with a syringe is used to extract tissue or cell samples from the suspected lump or area. The needle biopsy can further be categorized as:

  • Aspiration biopsy or Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) where a small amount of tissue or fluid is removed, usually from the breast or other suspicious areas.
  • Core needle biopsy, where a long, hollow, larger needle with a cutting edge is used to obtain samples.
  • Vacuum Assisted Biopsy (VAB) to obtain a larger tissue sample from the breast for further examination.
  • Image-guided biopsy is conducted during a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to guide the needle to the affected area.
  • Stereotactic biopsy which uses 3D images to collect sample fluid and tissues from the brain or breast.

3. Surgical biopsy

A surgical biopsy may be the only solution when doctors cannot collect cell or tissue samples through other biopsy methods or if other results are inconclusive. This invasive procedure is performed by a surgeon who specializes in extracting the suspicious area of cells. The cells are partially or completely removed as per the condition and sent for further analysis.

It goes without saying that surgical biopsies are performed only after the person is given a local or general anesthetic as per the requirement. Sometimes, the person may be allowed to go home after the procedure. Sometimes, the procedure may require a hospital stay.

4. Skin biopsy

The primary purpose of a skin biopsy is to detect skin cancers, and it usually requires a local anesthetic. Here again, there are various methods to take a skin biopsy, such as:

  • Shave biopsy uses a razor-like tool to collect cells from the skin’s surface.
  • Incisional biopsy, where a scalpel makes a small incision to remove a skin sample. The incision is then closed with sutures.
  • Punch biopsy, where a circular tool is used to collect samples from deeper skin layers.
  • Excisional biopsy, where entire lesions are removed. In most cases, it may be a suspicious-looking mole.

5. Endoscopic biopsy

Endoscopy is a procedure where a thin, flexible endoscope or tube with a camera or light on the end is inserted into the mouth, rectum, or urinary tract to observe the gastrointestinal or urinary tract. The same procedure is followed to collect tissue samples for further analysis.

Special tools are passed through the endoscope to collect tissues from various body parts in an endoscopic biopsy. There are several types of endoscopic biopsy, depending on the body area, such as:

  • Cystoscopy to collect bladder tissues
  • Bronchoscopy to collect lung tissues
  • Colonoscopy to collect tissues from the colon

Sometimes, you may be given a sedative or anesthetic before undergoing an endoscopic biopsy.

Also Read: MRI Scan- Definition & Methodology

What to Expect After A Biopsy?

The main purpose of a biopsy result is to understand the status of a health condition and draft the right course of treatment. Usually, you may have to wait for several days before your biopsy results are available. Some biopsies, however, may require more time for in-depth analysis.

Biopsies done for cancer will reveal whether you have cancer or not. However, if the result indicates cancer, it will also give you information regarding:

  • The origination of cancer or the type of cancer
  • The aggressiveness of the disease or cancer grade.

The Cancer Grade determines the aggressiveness of the cancer cells under a microscope and grades them on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being the least aggressive and 4 being the most aggressive form of cancer. The cancer grade is especially helpful in determining treatment options for the patient. The results of other tests on cancer cells can also be used to guide treatment decisions.

To properly diagnose and plan your treatment, your doctor will combine your biopsy results with your medical history, physical examination results, blood tests, and imaging tests.

Conclusion

While biopsies may not be a pleasant experience, their results are pivotal in assessing your health status and giving you a better chance to receive the right treatment.

Like all other diagnostic tests, biopsies are indispensable in the medical world.

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