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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Cancer and Biopsy

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Types of Breast Biopsies continued...

Sentinel node biopsy. This method helps ensure that only the lymph nodes most likely to have cancer are removed. It pinpoints the first lymph node a tumor drains into (called the sentinel node). To locate it, a radioactive tracer, a blue dye, or both, are injected into the area around the tumor. The tracer travels the same path that the cancer cells would take, making it possible for the surgeon to determine the one or two nodes most likely to have cancer.

Cells or tissues that are removed using any of the methods described above are given to a pathologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing suspicious tissue changes.

How Do I Care for Myself Afterward?

You may need to wear a special bra and dressings over the breast biopsy site for a few days after the procedure. Small tapes, or possibly stitches, will remain over the incision site. Don’t try to remove these yourself. They’ll either be removed at a follow-up appointment or will fall off by themselves.

You may be asked to apply medicine or ice to the biopsy area or change the bandages at home. Your doctor will give you advice on showering, bathing, and wound care.

You’ll get a prescription for pain relief if you need it, but you might be okay with an over-the-counter pain reliever. To lower the risk of bleeding, don’t take aspirin or products containing aspirin for the first 3 days after the procedure, unless a doctor tells you to.

The area of the biopsy might be black and blue for a few days afterward, too.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 29, 2015
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