Biopsy for Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Needle (Wire) Localization
This type of biopsy is performed when you have an abnormality seen on a mammogram that cannot be felt. It is an outpatient procedure, and is performed in two steps on the same day.
Step I — Radiology: Find the Abnormal Tissue
In a sitting or standing position, your breast will be positioned for a mammogram to find the exact location of the abnormal tissue. Once the area is identified, a radiologist will numb your breast with a local anesthetic. A needle is inserted and a small wire threaded through the needle. The tip of the needle is placed near the abnormal tissue. Accurate placement of the wire is checked by mammogram. The wire is securely taped in place.
Most women report no pain, but feel pressure and pulling. Some women feel faint or dizzy. If you have any unusual symptoms or sensations, tell the technologist assisting you or your radiologist so they can help you.
Step II — Same Day Surgery: Biopsy the Abnormal Tissue
During this biopsy, the abnormality identified on a mammogram is surgically removed.
You will be brought by wheelchair from radiology, where the wire was inserted, to same day surgery. Family or friends may be with you before and after the wire localization, but not during the procedure.
The biopsy is an excisional biopsy, meaning that the abnormality seen on mammogram is surgically removed. You will be given the anesthesia that you and your physician have discussed. The surgeon uses the wire implanted earlier to locate the abnormality and remove it in the operating room. The specimen, once removed from the breast, is then sent to radiology to be X-rayed. The radiologist and the surgeon communicate to confirm that the abnormality seen on mammogram has been removed.
Most women do not experience a marked change in the appearance of the breast beyond the surgical scar. In general, your surgeon will be able to tell you where the incision and scar is expected to be on your breast. The swelling and bruising that you may experience will resolve. You will, however, be able to feel lumpiness near the surgical site from scar tissue after the biopsy.
This procedure is generally well tolerated and most patients return to their full range of activities by the next day. However, occasionally there are patients who experience considerable pain, swelling and discomfort after this procedure. These symptoms should be reported to your doctor.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Biopsy for Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy
Your health care providers may refer you for a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) if a lump is discovered in your breast. Learn more here.
Biopsy for Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Stereotactic Core Biopsy
Stereotactic core biopsy was developed as an alternative to surgical biopsy. It is a less invasive way to obtain the tissue samples needed for diagnosis.
Biopsy for Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Surgical Breast Biopsy
Find information to help you prepare for your upcoming surgical breast biopsy. If you have any questions, contact the Breast Care Center at (415) 353-7070.
Basic Facts About Breast Health
Learn basic facts about breast structure and function and how to differentiate between the different types and stages of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Glossary
Check out our comprehensive Glossary of Breast Cancer terminology, which includes definitions of everything from AC chemotherapy to peripheral neuropathy.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Click now to find a summary of the factors that increase risk for developing breast cancer, including both factors that we cannot change and those we can.
Self-Care and Recovery
Self-Care and recovery resources including an Introduction to Lifestyle Change, Nutrition and Breast Cancer, Hydration: Water and Health, Meditation and more.
Breast reconstruction, surgery to rebuild a breast's shape, is often an option after mastectomy and is covered by some health insurance plans. Learn more now.
Follow-Up Care for Breast Cancer Patients
After patients have completed treatment for early stage breast cancer, one of the common questions is, "How should I best be monitored?" Learn more here.
Menopause and Breast Cancer
Breast cancer treatment often causes women to enter menopause prematurely. Although each woman reacts to therapy individually, certain side effects are common.
Metastatic Breast Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment
Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that originated in the breast and has spread to other organ systems in the body. Learn more here.
Navigating Your Path to Breast Care
Different services and information are needed at different points in breast health care and breast cancer treatment. Learn more here.
Osteoporosis and Breast Cancer
Women who have had breast cancer or are considered at high risk for developing breast cancer are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Learn more.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
The UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center and the Department of Radiation Oncology have compiled information about radiation therapy for your convenience.
Knowledge may lead you to take action to protect your health and that of other women you care about: your mother, daughters, relatives and friends. Learn more.
Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy Clinic
Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building
1825 Fourth St., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158