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Excisional Breast Biopsy


  • An excisional breast biopsy is a surgical procedure to remove a mass (lump) from your breast. This procedure may also be called a lumpectomy. An excisional breast biopsy is done to diagnose one or more lumps in the breast. The mass and tissue sample is sent to a lab and checked for cancer. Most breast lumps are benign (not cancer). If the tissue sample shows cancer, you and your caregiver may learn the type of cancer you have. Most breast cancers, and other breast problems, occur in women but can also occur in men.
  • An excisional breast biopsy may be done if you had a mammogram (breast x-ray) or another imaging test that showed a mass. You may need an excisional breast biopsy if you or your caregiver felt a mass during a breast exam. You may also need the procedure if you have a breast mass that has gotten bigger or has changed its shape. An excisional breast biopsy may be done if you have swollen or abnormal dry areas on your breast. A breast biopsy may be done if you have breast pain or discharge (fluid) from your nipple. If a needle breast biopsy showed abnormal cells in your breast, you may also need an excisional breast biopsy. An excisional breast biopsy may help you learn the cause of your breast mass or other symptoms. Learning the cause of your breast problem will allow you to get the proper treatment. If you have breast cancer, the sooner it is found, the easier it may be to treat. Learning you have breast cancer, and getting treatment, may help prevent the cancer from spreading.


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • You may need to see your caregiver if you have stitches to have them removed. If your biopsy results show you have breast cancer, you may need other tests. These tests include blood tests, urine tests, x-rays, and a bone scan. Ask your caregiver for more information about these or other tests you may need.

Caring for your wound:

The bandage over your wound may be removed two days after your procedure. Ask your caregiver how to care for you wound, including what to do when showering or bathing.

Put ice on your wound:

Putting an ice pack, covered with a towel, over your breast wound may help decrease pain and swelling. Put an ice pack on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as long as your caregiver suggests. Do not sleep on the ice pack as you may get frostbite.

Returning to your daily activities:

You may be able to return to most of your normal activities the day after your procedure. You may be told to avoid activities, such as jogging or lifting heavy objects, until your wound has healed. Ask your caregiver for more information about the activities you should avoid.

Wear a support bra:

Wear a support bra, such as a sports bra, at all times while your wound heals. The support bra will help decrease breast movement and discomfort after your procedure.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking harms your body in many ways. Smoking can affect how well your wound will heal. You are more likely to have cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.

Do self breast exams:

Your caregiver may suggest you do a self breast exam each month to check for changes in your breast tissue. Ask your caregiver to show you how to do a breast self exam.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have increased pain or swelling in your breast.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, tender (painful to touch), or has pus coming from it.
  • You have questions or concerns about your biopsy, medicines, or care.


  • Your stitches or staples loosen or fall out.
  • Your wound is bleeding and will not stop.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Excisional Breast Biopsy (Aftercare Instructions)

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