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Excisional Breast Biopsy


An excisional breast biopsy is a surgical procedure to remove a lump from your breast. It is also called a lumpectomy. An excisional breast biopsy is done to diagnose one or more lumps in the breast. The sample will be sent to a lab for testing. Most breast lumps are benign (not cancer).


The week before your procedure:

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
  • You may be told to bring a support bra, such as a sports bra, with you to your procedure. You will need to wear the support bra at all times until your breast heals. The support bra will help decrease breast movement and discomfort after your procedure.
  • You may need blood or urine tests. You may also need an ultrasound of your breast and a chest x-ray. An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to show the inside of your breast on a screen. Talk with your healthcare provider about these and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

The night before your procedure:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • Healthcare providers may use a guidewire to show the location of the lump. A needle and guidewire will be put through your skin until it reaches the lump. A mammogram is done after the guidewire is placed to make sure it is in the right area.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • You may have an ultrasound or mammogram before your procedure to find the exact location of your lump. A guidewire may be placed in your breast to mark the location. You may get a shot of local anesthesia medicine to numb the area where your procedure will be done. You may also be given general anesthesia to keep you completely asleep during the procedure.
  • An incision will be made in your breast, and your healthcare provider will remove the lump. A small amount of tissue around the lump, called a margin, will also be removed. The tissue will be sent to a lab for tests. Healthcare providers may x-ray the tissue taken to make sure the entire lump was removed. Your cut will be closed with stitches, and a bandage will be put over your wound. The bandage will keep the area clean and dry to help prevent an infection.

After your procedure:

You may be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers will check your wound for bleeding. If you have pain, you may be given medicine to take away or decrease your pain. Do not get out of bed until healthcare providers say it is okay. Healthcare providers will tell you when you can go home.


  • You are late or cannot make it to the procedure.
  • You have a fever.
  • The lump in your breast gets bigger, or your breast changes size or shape.
  • You see changes in the skin of your breast, such as an orange-peel look to your skin.
  • You have new or increased drainage from your nipple. The drainage can be clear, white, yellow, or bloody.


  • You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia medicine used for your procedure. The excisional biopsy may not have gotten the entire lump, and you may need another biopsy. If a guidewire is used to locate the lump, the guidewire may move out of place. Nerves near your breast may be damaged during the procedure, causing you to have decreased feeling in your breast. After your biopsy, you may have pain in the area where the biopsy was done. You may have nausea, vomiting, weakness, and dizziness. Your wound may bleed, your breast may bruise and swell, and you may get an infection. Your breast may have a different shape after the lump is removed.
  • If you do not have an excisional breast biopsy, you may not learn if the lump is cancer. Breast cancer may spread to other areas of your body and become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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 (Precare)

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