October’s Women’s Health Blog Series – Part One
After receiving abnormal results on a routine screening mammogram, many women are referred for a breast biopsy. Although the process can be unpleasant and stressful for some, the biopsies often reveal benign findings.
Fortunately, Sauk Prairie Healthcare’s Women’s Health Nurse Navigator, Teresa Dietsch, is present for each and every breast biopsy at Sauk Prairie Hospital. She guides patients through the process to ensure timely diagnosis. Dietsch helps the patient to understand the results of the biopsy and supports them throughout treatment if the biopsy reveals cancer. Dietsch serves as an educational resource but can also provide the emotional support that the patient and their family needs as they cope.
Dietsch sat down with us to answer a few of the questions she often receives from patients undergoing a breast biopsy.
What is a biopsy?
Dietsch: A breast biopsy is a procedure that examines the area of tissue that was identified as abnormal during a mammogram to determine if it is cancerous. There are three main types of biopsies: a fine needle biopsy, a core needle biopsy and a surgical biopsy.
What is the procedure like?
Dietsch: The three different types of biopsies each require slightly different procedures. The size, location and appearance of the abnormal area on your ultrasound or mammogram determine what kind of biopsy you will have.
A fine needle biopsy uses a very thin needle to withdraw a small amount of fluid from the area identified as abnormal. A local anesthetic may be used to numb the area.
A core needle biopsy uses a hollow needle to withdraw cores of tissue from the abnormal area. The doctor often uses a local anesthetic to numb the area.
A surgical biopsy, or an open biopsy, involves making an incision in the breast and removing all or a section of the lump so that it can be examined under a microscope. The procedure is usually done in the hospital’s outpatient area using local or general anesthesia.
Why do I need a biopsy?
Dietsch: When a doctor finds something abnormal during a mammogram or ultrasound, they need to further investigate the results. It’s not always possible to tell from the imaging tests whether a growth or change in tissue is benign– a biopsy is the only way to determine if it’s cancerous. However, just because the doctor refers you for a biopsy doesn’t mean you have cancer. In fact, the National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates that 80% of women who have breast biopsies do not have breast cancer.
When will I get the results?
Dietsch: The tissue sample is sent to the pathologist where it is processed and analyzed. This can take time and you may need to wait anywhere from a few days to a week to hear back from your doctor.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your breast health, schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor. If you’re due for a routine screening mammogram, visit Sauk Prairie Healthcare for Walk-In Wednesdays where you can receive your annual screening mammogram with no appointment.
For more information regarding Teresa Dietsch and her role as Women’s Health Nurse Navigator, click here.