Biopsies are used for diagnostic testing and involve sampling cells or tissue for examination. The sample can then be analysed chemically or observed under a microscope to determine the presence or severity of a disease. They may also be used in therapeutic treatment by removing damaged tissue.
There are 2 types of biopsy:
Excisional - When an entire mass of tissue is removed.
Incisional - When a sample is taken without damaging the surrounding tissue (an exception being a needle aspiration biopsy).
Biopsies are often used in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer, to remove lesions and/or identify the stage and type of cancer. They may also be used in the diagnosis and monitoring of other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, to observe any changes that may precede malignancy and transplanted organs can be biopsied to assess whether there are any signs of rejection.
Sites often biopsied: bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, liver, prostate, lung, breast, cervix and skin.
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