When the mammogram shows abnormalities in some area, further assessment tests may be required. Dr Yong Wei Sean, Senior Consultant, Department of Surgical Oncology, NCCS explains when a biopsy is needed.
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Dr Yong Wei Sean, Senior Consultant,
Department of Surgical Oncology,
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), a member of the
SingHealth group shares on when a breast biopsy is required.
An abnormal mammogram indicates a suspcious area in the breast. However, this does not mean there is a tumour or cancer. Doctors will usually conduct further tests to assess and evaluate the abnormalities.
SO IS IT BREAST CANCER?
Once the test results are out, your doctor will be able to advise you on a course of action.
There are three possible scenarios:
- The abnormality is a false alarm: In this case, there is nothing to worry about. Your doctor may recommend that you return for your screening mammogram next year –i.e. you revert to normal routine follow-up screening.
- A breast biopsy is needed.
- Close follow-up is needed – i.e. repeat imaging is needed in 4 to 6 months’ time.
GETTING A BREAST BIOPSY
If you are required to have a breast biopsy, it is likely to be scheduled soon, either the same day or within a week.
“During a breast biopsy, a small amount of tissue is removed from the breast for further examination under a microscope,” explains Dr Yong. “There are a few ways to remove the tissue from the breast. It can be done via fine needle aspiration biopsy, core needle biopsy or surgical biopsy.”
After the procedure, the breast tissue sample will be sent to the pathologist to check for breast cancer cells. “The results will usually come back after a week,” says Dr Yong.
During the wait, many women will be anxious and worried. This is absolutely normal.
“To make the wait more bearable, you can share your worries with a trusted family member or friend,” advises Dr Yong. “Or, you could list down all the questions that you want to ask your doctor at your next appointment.”
If breast cancer is ultimately detected, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. In a majority of cases, breast cancer is eminently treatable.