Test and Treatment: Fine-needle Aspiration of a Breast Lump

Aspiration of a breast lump is used as a diagnostic procedure to detect breast cancer and as a treatment for fluid-filled breast cysts. If aspiration confirms that a breast lump is solid tissue, a sample of cells is withdrawn and examined under a microscope for evidence of cancer. If the lump is a cyst, the fluid will be drained and the lump should disappear. If it does not disappear, a cell sample will be taken and examined, as for a solid lump. Aspiration may be uncomfortable but usually takes only a few seconds.

Cross section

During the procedure

The doctor immobilizes the breast lump with one hand and inserts a needle attached to a syringe into the lump. Cells or fluid are then withdrawn through the needle for analysis.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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