cancer

Things You Need to Know about Biopsy

Dr. Tarang Krishna
27 Oct 2018
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Biopsy is mainly associated with cancer and it helps doctors to detect abnormalities or any kind of diseases present in a human body. When a biopsy is done, a piece of tissue or a sample of cells is removed from body so that it can be analyzed in a laboratory. Based on the type of cancer there are various kinds of biopsies including Skin Biopsy, Bone Marrow Biopsy, Surgical Biopsy, Needle Biopsy and Endoscopic Biopsy.

What is Biopsy?

A biopsy test gives doctors detailed information about diseases and helps the patient to take timely precautions. When a biopsy is done, a piece of tissue or a sample of cells is removed from body so that it can be analyzed in a laboratory. A pathologist observes the tissue sample under a microscope and then determines whether the tissue is cancerous or not. If you are experiencing certain signs and symptoms the causes of which remain undetected even after repeated testing, the only way to make a definitive diagnosis is to perform a biopsy. It would help to determine whether you have cancer or not. After an analysis of the reports, doctor may suggest a biopsy based on the symptoms and health conditions of the patient. If doctor suspects that it may have affected the bone marrow then it is highly advised to go for a bone marrow biopsy. In this procedure, a doctor obtains some bone marrow (a mass of spongy tissues produced inside some larger bones) from the back of hipbone using a fine needle. The pathological examination of bone marrow tissues reveals the kind of blood problems as blood cells are produced in red and yellow marrow. 

Why are biopsies done?

Biopsies are done to identify cancer and many other health conditions. A doctor may recommend a biopsy whenever there is an important medical question that biopsy could answer. A biopsy is mainly done when :

  • A person is suffering from hepatitis and it is important to know if cirrhosis is present.
  • When there is a lump or swelling on any part of your body. The only way to confirm whether the swelling and lump is a cancer is to take a biopsy.
  • When melanoma is possible or when the mole on your skin has changed its shape
  • When there is inflammation within the organs such as kidney and liver, then the need for biopsy arises. Biopsy helps in the identification of those cells that occur with specific types of inflammation

 Different types of biopsy

The different types of biopsies are given below:

1. Skin Biopsy

A skin biopsy is used to diagnose skin conditions especially if there is a rash or lesion on skin, which is suspicious for a certain condition. In this process, cells are removed from the surface of body with the help of a circular blade called “Punch” or with a razor blade, a scalpel etc.

This is mostly done by using local anesthesia. The specimen is sent for a skin biopsy to find out if there is a possibility of some infection, cancer, or inflammation of the skin structures or blood vessels. The clinical results of skin biopsy determine the stage or grade of cancer or other conditions. 
SKIN bIopsy

2. Bone Marrow Biopsy

Bone marrow biopsy is done if the doctor suspects that there are problems in blood cells. It helps in determining the type and extent of blood problem for both cancerous and noncancerous condition such as leukemia, lymphoma, anemia and multiple myelomas. This kind of biopsy can also detect if cancer cells have spread to other parts of bones. In this type of biopsy, bone marrow is easily accessed by using a long needle inserted into hipbone. Patients can feel a dull pain initially during this procedure therefore local anesthetic is injected to suppress pain.

bone marrow biopsy

3. Surgical Biopsy

Surgical biopsy is done in order to remove abnormal cells present in breast or a tumour in brain. Those cells, which are not easily accessible with the help of a needle, are obtained with surgical biopsy. An incision in made into the surface of skin to access the suspicious area of cells. Surgical biopsy uses local anesthetics to numb the area of the biopsy while some procedures require general anesthetics to make patients unconscious during the procedure. 

4. Endoscopic Biopsy

In this procedure, an endoscope is inserted with the help of a tube into a patient’s body to observe the condition of the affected and suspicious cells. The endoscope has a tiny light and a camera, which allows the doctor to get better images while collecting the sample. Endoscopic biopsies are widely used in form of cystoscopy to collect tissue from inside bladder, lungs (bronchoscopy) and colon (colonoscopy). The endoscope can be inserted through any opening in the body, including nose, mouth, rectum or urethra. Patients can get uncomfortable, swelling or bloating, gas, or a sore throat, which eventually gets better with time.

5. Needle Biopsy

A needle biopsy is used to extract cells from a tumour that a doctor can easily feel through pressing that part of the skin. Under this process, a doctor uses a needle and extracts fluid or cells from the affected part. This procedure is commonly used for getting suspicious breast lumps and enlarged lymph nodes. A doctor usually derives cells from the inner areas under the skin that cannot be felt from outside by combining it with an imaging procedure, such as X-ray.

needle biospy

The different types of needle biopsies include the following :

  • Core needle biopsies use medium-sized needle to extract a column of tissue from the skin.
  • Fine needle biopsies where a thin needle is attached to a syringe so that fluids and cells to be drawn out
  • Image-guided biopsy is combined with imaging procedures such as X-ray or CT scans which allows the doctor to get access to specific areas, such as the lung, liver, or other organs
  • Vacuum-assisted biopsies is conducted using a suction from a vacuum to collect cells
     

How Results are Obtained in Biopsy? 

When doctor collects a sample of affected tissues by using a needle or surgical procedure, then that sample is sent to a laboratory for clinical analysis. A pathologist treats the sample chemically or freezes and cuts them into thin slices, which are stained and observed under a microscope. Proper staining of the slices enhances contrast and helps in getting suitable results as revealed by the tissues.

Importance of Biopsy Test for Cancer Diagnosis 

A complete and accurate pathology report is important for diagnosis and deciding on the best treatment plan. Biopsies are also used to diagnose other conditions and see how far a disease has progressed. Here is a quick checklist of some important reasons that make biopsy as an indispensable diagnostic procedure for cancer and other health problems :-

1. To detect and differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells

Be it an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, imaging test cannot give you precise result whether the cells are cancerous or not. It is only through biopsy and close observation of the specimen that a doctor can conclude whether it is a cancer or some other abnormalities.

2. Helps check the spread of cancer

The results of a biopsy not only tell that it is cancer but also helps doctor determine the grade and stage of cancer. The grading of cancer on the scale of 1 to 4 simply tells the aggressiveness or stage of cancer that helps in determining the right clinical procedures after the diagnosis.

3. Helps doctors plan the best treatment

After a biopsy tests and diagnosis, doctor can easily determine the best treatment that needs to be given to patients for quick recovery. In other words, one can say that biopsy test result helps doctors determine whether the cells need further examination for more conclusive results that helps a patient recover from the disease.

Preparing for Biopsy

Biopsy preparation may include bowel preparation, getting on clear liquid diet, or in some cases you will need to remove your clothing and wear a gown.You will be given clear instructions from the doctor as to what you need to do before the procedure. 

Before biopsy:

  • Ask the doctor whether you can eat or drink anything before biopsy 
  • Ask if you should take your regular medications before biopsy. Ask your doctor if you require specific medications and supplements.
  • Tell your doctor if you are allergic to a specific drug or other medical conditions.

Analysis of the results

A doctor may get the results of biopsy within few hours or if the tissue sample is sent to a laboratory then it may take few days to few weeks too. After going through the results, the doctor will inform you the type and grade of cancer you are suffering from and the best kind of treatment available.

A biopsy can provide early diagnosis of cancer and detect the presence of any other abnormalities in body. If you are looking for a specialist for Biopsy test or cancer related problems you can call us at+91-8929020600


Dr. Tarang Krishna

About the Author

Medical Oncologist
Dr. Tarang Krishna has an impressive educational background to his credit. He completed his under graduation in Medicine & Surgery from Pune, India and did his M.D. (Hom) from Agra University, India. He then completed his Ph.D. in Oncology from the United Kingdom and presented a much renowned and celebrated thesis on the ‘Efficacy of Medicines in the Treatment of Cancer’. Following the footsteps of his reverend father, Dr. Tarang Krishna, he has always been an achiever and a go-getter. He was presented with the Certificate of Excellence by India Health Care Award in 2014. He received the honor of “Dr. Jugal Kishore Award” for cancer treatment by the honorable Health Minister of Delhi, Dr. A.K. Walia in 2013. In August 2012, Dr. Tarang Krishna received the Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award for "Innovative Therapy in Cancer Healing”. He was bestowed with the noble “Dr. Diwan Harish Chand Award” and the “Hahnemann Excellence Award- 2011” for the treatment of cancer once again by Dr. A.K. Walia, honorable Health Minister of Delhi, in April 2012 and April 2011 respectively. Adding to his fleet of awards and honors is the Samaaj Rattan Samman Award-2011 which he received in January, 2011 and the Rajadhani Gaurav Samman Award-2010 in October, 2010. In April, 2010, he received an Appreciation Award from the Government of Delhi and the International Hahnemann Award- 2010 for outstanding contribution to the treatment of cancer in February, 2010.
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