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What is a Biopsy Test?

A biopsy is a diagnostic procedure that involves obtaining a sample of tissue or cells for analysis to diagnose a medical condition. It is definitive way to diagnosis most cancers and is often a follow up procedure after imaging tests detect suspicious lumps and tumours. There are several types of biopsies performed to test if abnormalities in your body are caused by cancer or by other conditions. 

What Biopsy Tests are available?

A biopsy is often performed using a needle, a probe or a scope, depending on the area the sample is taken from.  

Bone Marrow Biopsy
A bone marrow biopsy is done if an abnormality is detected in your blood. Blood cells are produced within the bone called the marrow. Analyis of a bone marrow sample may diagnose blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

A long needle is used to draw a sample of bone marrow out of the  hipbone or other bones in your body. You will receive a local anesthesia before a bone marrow biopsy in order to minimise discomfort during the procedure.

Endoscopic Biopsy
This biopsy is done to gather samples from internal organs like the lung, bladder and colon. A flexible thin tube called an endoscope with a light and camera is inserted through a small incision in your body and tools are used to obtain samples. The endoscope can be inserted via the mouth, rectum or urethra. 

Needle Biopsy
This biopsy is done to gather samples and tissue from the skin. It is often done to diagnose tumours under the skin, such as suspicious breast lumps and enlarged lymph nodes. An image-guided biopsy such as a CT scan is often used during a needle biopsy to collect cells from a suspicious area in the organs like the liver and lungs. Other forms of needle biopsies extract tissue, fluid as well as cells.

Skin Biopsy
This biopsy is done when a skin disorder is present, a local anesthsia is applied before a small area on the skin is removed with a blade or scalpel to check for infection or cancer. 

Surgical Biopsy
This biopsy is done when the area to be tested is not possible to reach by other methods, of if other biopsy results are inconclusive. Procedures can be used to remove part of an abnormal area of cells or an entire area of abnormal cells, such as tumours in the breast and abdomen.

Samples are sent to the laboratory for testing to detect the presence of cancer, and if detected, the grading and staging of the cancer will be done to determine the treatment options.. 

You will be given a follow up appointment to review your test results. Should you feel unwell, contact your doctor immediately or call our 24-Hour Medical Urgency Clinic.


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