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An excision biopsy of a breast lump involves removing a lump through a small cut. The tissue will be examined to find out if you have cancer.
If your surgeon can’t feel the lump, a breast radiologist (doctor who specialises in breast X-rays and scans) will use a mammogram machine or ultrasound scanner to guide the surgeon to where the lump is. Guidewire may be placed into your breast using a local anaesthetic or, if the lump is close to the skin, a pen will be used to mark the position of the lump.
An excision biopsy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and takes about 30 minutes. Your surgeon will go through the breast gland and remove the lump. They will usually close the wound with dissolvable stitches. For more information, and if you have any queries about the operation, speak to your consultant. Continue your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.
You should be able to go home the same day after the operation. However, your doctor may recommend that you stay a little longer. Remember, you will not be able to drive home after your operation.
Wearing a soft bra that fits comfortably will help to support your breast and reduce any pain, and you should be able to have a bath or shower 24 hours after the operation. Avoid soaking the wound too much for the first five days.
You should be able to return to work after three to seven days and most women return to normal activities within ten days. Ask your GP for advice on gentle exercise.
You’ll be asked to attend a follow-up clinic within three weeks after your operation where results of the biopsy will be discussed and plans of any treatment or follow-up you may need.
Excision biopsy costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.
For further information or to book a consultation or treatment, please get in touch with our cancer enquiries team: Call us on 0800 157 7747
Content reviewed: October 2014