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Core Biopsy Information

What is a core biopsy?

A core biopsy involves a doctor placing a needle into the breast to remove a small sample of tissue. Ultrasound, mammography or clinical guidance (where the doctor feels for the area to be sampled) may be used to place the needle in the correct location. The doctor/s will decide which method is to be used, depending on each woman's individual circumstances.

Core biopsy is one of a group of tests which may be used at assessment to help diagnose certain breast conditions. Although these tests are not 100% accurate, their combined use gives the best chance of detecting or excluding breast cancer. Please note that you can withdraw your consent for a biopsy and request that it be stopped at any time.

Will I need an anaesthetic?

This procedure is done under local anaesthetic.

Will the core biopsy leave a scar?

A very fine scar (less than 5mm) may be left. This is likely to fade in time.

Why is a core biopsy done?

The purpose of a core biopsy is to remove one or more small pieces of tissue from the area of the breast being checked. The breast tissue is then studied under a microscope. This test can help doctors find out the nature of the breast changes.

How long will the core biopsy take?

If the test is done using mammography, it may take up to an hour. If the test is done using ultrasound or by clinical guidance, it may take up to half an hour.

Are there any risks?

Some bruising, swelling, discomfort or slight bleeding may occur. Very rarely, a serious complication may occur, including puncture of the lung (pneumothorax) or damage to an artery. Should this occur, surgery may be necessary. Infection may occur, however this is extremely rare. If the area is uncomfortable it is recommended that you take paracetamol (eg. Panadol, Dymadon) to ease the discomfort. DO NOT TAKE DISPRIN, ASPIRIN, ASPALGIN OR OTHER PREPARATIONS CONTAINING ASPIRIN, as they may increase the bruising. Cold packs and pressure applied to the area can also help to ease any discomfort and reduce bruising. If you are concerned about the risks following the core biopsy, please contact BreastScreen Queensland staff during office hours or your general practitioner.

What BreastScreen Queensland staff need to know about you

Some medications may cause additional bleeding or bruising. The attached list gives some examples of these medicines. If you are taking any medicines (whether they are on this list or not), please tell the BreastScreen Queensland staff before your core biopsy. It is also important for the BreastScreen Queensland staff to know if you have any of the following medical conditions or any other serious health problems before you have the core biopsy done.

  • Heart problems
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Neck or shoulder problems
  • Bleeding problems
  • Diabetes
  • Allergies or previous reactions to medicines, local anaesthetic or sticking plaster
  • Epileps.

Is any preparation necessary?

As a core biopsy is a minor procedure, there is no need to fast before the test. We ask that you do not use any talcum powder, body lotions, creams, perfumes or deodorant on or near the breast area before you have your core biopsy.

When will the test results be available?

Most women will be told their results by a doctor within seven calendar days. If you agree, your doctor will also be informed of the results of your core biopsy.

How much will the core biopsy cost?

Within the BreastScreen Queensland Program, the test is free.

What if breast cancer is found?

Most women who have a breastscreen (screening mammogram) and are called back for further tests do not have breast cancer. A very small number of women will need further specialist treatment because a cancer is found. If this happens to you, it is your choice either to be referred back to your general practitioner or staff at the Service will assist you in making appropriate arrangements for specialist treatment.

What if I need more information?

Specially trained counsellors will be available to provide information and support during your visit. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask the staff at the BreastScreen Queensland Service or phone 13 20 50 for the cost of a local call. We aim to provide you with high quality and friendly care at your visit. Early detection saves lives.