The term biopsy means an examination of tissue removed from a living body to discover the presence, cause, or extent of a disease. It is the removal of a piece of tumour, abnormal lesion or mass from the diseased site and subsequent analysis of the tissue by the pathologist.
In breast cancer, biopsies are performed by surgeons or radiologists. Biopsies are performed using needles to take cells from the diseased site and this is called Fine Needle Aspirate biopsies. Sometimes larger needles are used to take a small sample of breast tissue from the area of concern and sent to the laboratory for testing. This is called breast core biopsy.
Preference in breast cancer or where some suspicion finding is seen in the mammogram or ultrasound, biopsies are done with needles. For biopsies, the minimal invasive technique is adopted so that only a small piece of tissue is removed from the area of concern for treatment planning causing very little trauma to the breasts.
Thus, in a nutshell, breast biopsy is the removal of tissue or sometimes fluid from the suspicious area and examining under the microscope and further tested to check for the presence of breast cancer. A biopsy is the only diagnostic procedure that can definitely determine if the suspicious area is cancerous or not.