Sentinel node mapping: The sentinel node—the first lymph node to which breast cancer is likely to spread—is removed, rather than all the lymph nodes. In order to identify the sentinel node, the doctors inject either a blue dye or a relatively non-toxic radioactive substance and see which lymph node it reaches first. This lymph node is the sentinel node, and is surgically removed.
Endoscopic biopsy: A biopsy is performed through a fiberoptic endoscope—a long, thin tube that has a close-focusing telescope on the end for viewing—through a natural body opening or a small incision.
Bone marrow biopsy: This type of biopsy is performed either from the breastbone or the bone area on either side of the pelvis on the lower back area. The skin is cleansed and a local anesthetic is given to numb the area. A long, rigid needle is inserted into the marrow, and cells are aspirated for study. A core biopsy, which removes a small bone chip from the marrow, may follow the aspiration.
Excisional or Incisional Biopsy: This type of biopsy is often used when a wider or deeper portion of the skin is needed. Using a scalpel, a full thickness of skin is removed for further examination, and the wound is sewed shut with surgical thread. Excisional biopsy is often the method usually preferred when melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is suspected.
Fine-needle aspiration biopsy: A thin needle removes very small pieces from a tumor. This biopsy may be used on large lymph nodes near a melanoma to see if the melanoma has spread. A computed tomography scan may be used to guide a needle into a tumor in an internal organ.
Punch biopsy: Punch biopsies involve taking a deeper sample of skin with a biopsy instrument that removes a short cylinder of tissue. After a local anesthetic is administered, the instrument is rotated on the surface of the skin until it cuts through all the layers, including the dermis, epidermis, and the most superficial parts of the subcutis.
Shave biopsy: Removes the top layers of skin by shaving it off; a local anesthetic is used.
Skin biopsy: Removing a sample of skin for examination under the microscope to determine if melanoma is present. The biopsy is performed under local anesthesia.
Prostate biopsy: This procedure is about a five- to ten-minute office procedure. The patient takes an antibiotic and refrains from taking any aspirin or other blood thinners for several days in advance. You should check with your physician regarding the specific instructions that he or she uses.
Usually, the biopsy is performed with an ultrasound probe in the rectum. Using the ultrasound images as a guide, the physician first numbs the rectal wall and prostate using the same technique that a dentist would use to numb your mouth.
The doctor then uses an instrument with a needle that removes a small core of tissue from the prostate; generally, between 10 to 12 individual cores are removed. The potential risks of the procedure include bleeding and infection-stopping blood thinners prior to the biopsy and taking antibiotics reduces the risk of these complications.