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What percentage of breast biopsies are cancer?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 14, 2021.

Official answer


About 20% of core needle breast biopsies yield a diagnosis of breast cancer. Because more than 1 million women have breast biopsies each year in the United States, this equates to over 200,000 women every year being diagnosed with breast cancer from a needle biopsy. This means about 80% of core needle biopsies are negative for breast cancer. Most women who have a breast biopsy do not have breast cancer.

  • Core-Needle Biopsy for Breast Abnormalities May 26, 2016. Agency for healthcare research and quality,tissue%20through%20a%20surgical%20incision
  • Eisenberg Center at Oregon Health & Science University. Having a Breast Biopsy: A Guide for Women and Their Families. 2010 Apr 14. In: Comparative Effectiveness Review Summary Guides for Consumers [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2005

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