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How is a core needle biopsy used to diagnose breast cancer?

A core biopsy uses a larger needle to sample breast changes felt by the doctor or pinpointed by ultrasound or mammogram. (When mammograms taken from different angles are used to pinpoint the biopsy site, this is known as a stereotactic core needle biopsy.) In some centers, the biopsy can be guided by an MRI scan.
The needle used in core biopsies is larger than that used in fine needle aspiration. It removes a small cylinder (core) of tissue (about 1/16- to 1/8-inch in diameter and ½-inch long) from a breast abnormality. Several cores are often removed. The biopsy is done using local anesthesia (where you are awake but the area is numbed) in an outpatient setting.
Because it removes larger pieces of tissue, a core needle biopsy is more likely than a fine needle aspiration biopsy to provide a clear diagnosis, although it may still miss some cancers.

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