A biopsy is a procedure performed to take a small part of tissue or a group of cells out of the body to be tested in a laboratory. If a person faces any unusual marks or changes in the body that are not identified by normal tests, a biopsy test is recommended.

Description And Symptoms
Effects/ Causes

A biopsy is one of the tests that are done to examine the internal activity of the body. The healthcare service provider removes a few samples of fluid, tissue, or cells, from the body and sends it to a pathologist to examine the same.

Apart from a pathologist, a biopsy can also be performed by a surgeon, radiologist, gastroenterologist, oncologist, dermatologist, gynecologist, and cytologist. Some biopsies can also be done by physician assistants.

Biopsy helps diagnose various medical conditions like infections, inflammatory and immune disorders, endometriosis, and peptic ulcer disease other than cancer. The way of applying the procedure depends on its type and the body part suffered. 


When a test is done and the results show an abnormal change in the tested tissue or cells, that calls for the biopsy test. The simplest example can be a mole on the skin that has changed its shape lately.

Below are the normal symptoms that may ask for a biopsy.

  • Fatigue,
  • Abnormal weight change,
  • Changes in skin (colour or any mark),
  • Lump,
  • Consistent cough or breathing issues,
  • Any change in bowel habits,
  • Difficulty in making some sounds while speaking,
  • Difficulty in swallowing,
  • Suspicious bleeding,
  • Consistent unexplained indigestion, muscle pain, or fever, or
  • Any kind of discomfort. 

There are various types of biopsies done in different ways, the major ones are mentioned below-

  • Needle biopsy (to extract fluid, cells, or tissue in case of an unusual lump).
  • Bone marrow biopsy (a special biopsy syringe and needle are used to take out the sample to diagnose blood cancers and other related disorders).
  • Incisional and excisional biopsies (incisions are made on the body and tissue samples are taken from suspicious areas; the entire lump is removed in the case of excisional one though).
  • Cone biopsy (done on the cervix, and hence, treats cervical cancer).
  • Liquid biopsy (detects blood cancer).
  • Shave biopsy (a razor is used to take out scrape-out skin to detect skin cancer).
  • Punch biopsy (a hole is punched in the skin by using a certain device).
  • Sentinel node biopsy (done to check the spread of cancer cells).
  • Image-guided biopsy (imaging equipment is used to help in taking the sample).
  • Endoscopic biopsy (a thin, flexible, and light tube that comes with a camera that is used to see inside the body).
  • Laparoscopic biopsy (similar to endoscopic biopsy but for certain areas like the abdomen or pelvis).

The sample taken from biopsy helps in knowing what causes the mass, lump, infection, or inflammation. Doing this may cause bleeding or infection in the specific area.

The patient may also feel mild pain at or near the place where the needle was inserted. This is lowered by the painkiller tablets prescribed by the doctor.

If you have a fever, unbearable pain, unstoppable bleeding, or swelling in the biopsied area, inform your doctor then and there.

When and why am I asked to get a biopsy test done?

If there is an abnormality found in the cells that is not understandable via other tests, the doctor asks for a biopsy test.

What should I do if my biopsy results show something negative?

The results will be interpreted by your healthcare service provider. This would be the basis of the next step, whether it's further tests or planning the treatment.

Can we rely on the biopsy results?

Yes, we can rely on the fact that biopsy results are generally near to accurate and help in detecting the abnormality in cells or tissues.

When would I get my biopsy results?

It depends on the type of biopsy and the suspected area. It may be available in a few hours, or days, or may take even more than a week.

Are biopsy results accurate?

Biopsy tests give the most accurate results when compared to other options. They not only confirm the cancer but also identify its type and genetic modification.

Are there any chances of wrong biopsy results?

Generally, it doesn't happen but if it does, it's because either the sample size is too small or cancer is not present in that particular area.

What should I do to prepare myself for a biopsy?

You'll be guided by your doctor regarding all the instructions, medications, diet, supplements, etc. Avoid unnecessary chemicals on your body as much as you can.

For how long do I have to stay hospitalized?

It all depends upon the type of biopsy and treatment. Certain procedures are really quick and take as little as 30 minutes to perform. If a certain type of cancer is suspected that requires additional tests, the patient may be asked to stay for a further 24 to 96 hours. It also depends on how critical and complex the case is.

After the sample is taken, what happens to the same?

After the sample is sent for testing, it is again preserved for further analysis. These are supposed to be stored for a certain period, some for 5 years whereas some for 10 years or more as per the Federal law.

What precautions do I need to take after the biopsy?

Generally, the doctor tells you all the things but normal things to consider are-

  • Inform your doctor if you notice bleeding from the biopsy site even after 24 hours.
  • Keep the bandage ON.
  • Don't take a shower for at least 24 hours after the biopsy.
  • Keep the biopsied area dry and clean.
  • Apply ice packs for relief, as much as you can.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects.
  • Don't do heavy exercises.


*Result may vary person to person.