How to Prepare for a Breast Biopsy

Your doctor has ordered a breast biopsy because there is a suspicious area in your breast.  A biopsy is the only way to confirm whether or not the lump in your breast is cancerous.  Try to take heart before going into the procedure; in about 4 of 5 cases, biopsy results determine that breast lumps are not cancerous.

Listen to Dr. Elizabeth O’Neil talk about Breast Biopsies and Breast Disease.

There are three kids of biopsy specialists use to determine whether or not a lump is cancerous. An ultrasound guide biopsy, which uses ultrasound imaging to guide a radiologist to the site, an MRI-guided biopsy, which uses magnetic resonance imaging, and a stereotactic biopsy, a special mammography machine that uses ionizing radiation to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site. Regardless of which biopsy you are scheduled for, these are some guidelines for preparing:

Before Your Biopsy

  • You may eat a regular breakfast and/or lunch. Fasting is NOT required.
    • Take all prescribed medication EXCEPT FOR BLOOD THINNERS. Blood thinners, such as heparin, Coumadin®, Lovenox® or Plavix®, must be stopped at least five days before your procedure.
  • Please check with your prescribing physician to make sure it is OK to stop blood thinners.
  • AVOID ASPIRIN for five days before procedure.
  • You do not need someone to drive you home. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the breast area — nothing that will make you drowsy or unable to drive.

The Day of Your Biopsy

  • Arrive 15 minutes before your appointment.
  • Bring a good supportive bra to wear after the biopsy to reduce movement and for comfort.

After Your Biopsy

  • An ice pack should be applied to the biopsy site after the procedure to help reduce swelling. Alternate putting on an ice pack for 20 minutes and taking it off for 10 minutes throughout the day to avoid freezing the skin.
  • There may be some bruising to the breast and the bruise may turn yellow in three days. This is normal. Your body should absorb the bruising in five days.
  • You will have a sterile Opsite dressing over the Steri-Strips™. You can remove this dressing in 24 hours. Leave the Steri-Strips™ in place. They will fall off on their own.
  • You may shower with Steri-Strips™. Pat dry.
  • Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity for 24 hours.
  • Tylenol may be used for discomfort. Do not take aspirin, Motrin or Aleve.

How Will I Know My Breast Biopsy Results?
Your pathology results usually take three to five days to return. Your physician or the breast cancer nurse navigator will call you with your results and any recommendations for follow-up.

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