Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is a lumpectomy needed for all cases of breast cancer?"
I found a lump and am going into see the doctor. Will I need a lumpectomy? What will determine if I do?
First of all let me commend you on doing self exams and detecting a lump...while it is a nerve wracking finding, it is always better to pick up potentially worrisome lesions earlier rather than later. These are definitely questions that you should discuss with your breast surgeon, as they will be able to give you a much more accurate answer after being able to thoroughly examine you, and perform a detailed history. With that being said, I am happy to give you some general information about breast biopsy techniques. There are a multitude of techniques that can be used, and they can be broken down into two separate broad categories: percutaneous (through the skin), and open surgical techniques. Percutaneous techniques are typically the most common as they are the least invasive and can range from Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) to core biopsy. FNA is a technique where a very small needle is passed into the lesion/mass and a small sample of the cells is collected within the lumen of the needle. This can be done by palpation if the lesion is able to be felt, or under CT guidance if it shows up on imaging, but cannot be felt. A core biopsy is a similar procedure using a larger needle to obtain a larger sample of tissue. Open surgical techniques in general can be incisional (taking a piece) or excisional (removing the entire lesion). The term lumpectomy typically refers to an excisional biopsy. I hope this is some help to you.
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