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What happens during fine needle biopsy?

A local anaesthetic is injected first to numb the area. If the lump is near the surface of your body and can easily be felt, the doctor will probably just feel it to guide the needle in. If the lump is deep within the body (such as in the abdomen) or is harder to feel, the doctor will use an ultrasound scan or sometimes a CT scan to see where the needle is going and guide it into the right place. A fine needle is put into the lump to take a sample of cells. Several samples may be taken.

When the cells are looked at under a microscope, the pathologist will be able to tell whether they are benign (not cancerous) or cancerous cells.

If the lump is a sarcoma (a rare form of cancer), further tests may be done on the sample to try to find out exactly what type of sarcoma it is. Sometimes, particularly with children, the biopsy is done under a general anaesthetic.

For most people a needle biopsy will show whether the lump is a sarcoma. Sometimes, not enough cells are collected to give a clear answer, and then a surgical biopsy is needed.


Find your nearest hospital that provides this test

67 Lansdowne Road
Bournemouth
BH1 1RW

01202 291866

Shenfield Road
Brentwood
CM15 8EH

01277 695695

Warren Road
Brighton
BN2 6DX

01273 624488

3 Clifton Hill
Clifton
Bristol
BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870

4 Trumpington Road
Cambridge
CB2 8AF

01223 303336

Cardiff Bay Hospital
Dunleavey Drive
Cardiff
CF11 0SN

02920 836700

Hatherley Lane
Cheltenham
GL51 6SY

01242 246552

Wrexham Road
Chester
CH4 7QP

01244 680 444

25 Beaconsfield Road
Glasgow
G12 0PJ

01413349441

2 Leighton Street
Leeds
LS1 3EB

01133 882 067

Clayton Road
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
NE2 1JP

0191 281 6131

Beech Road
Headington
Oxford
OX3 7RP

01865 307777

Winchester Road
Chandlers Ford
Eastleigh
SO53 2DW

02380 266 377

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