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Core needle biopsy

A core needle biopsy takes a sample of cells from a suspicious lump or area of tissue. The cells are looked at under a microscope. This test helps the doctor decide if it is sarcoma. 

What happens?

The doctor uses a needle with a special cutting tool on the end. You usually have more than one biopsy taken. You will have a local anaesthetic injection to numb the area before the doctor puts the needle in. 

If the lump is near the surface of your body and easy to get to, the doctor will probably just feel it to guide the needle in. If the lump is deeper or harder to feel, the doctor will use an ultrasound scan or CT scan to see where the needle is going and guide it to the right place.

After the core needle biopsy

The doctor puts the samples of tissue into a small pot. They send them to the laboratory so that they can be examined under the microscope to look for cancer cells.

This procedure can be uncomfortable and your doctor may prescribe mild painkillers for you.

Getting your results

You usually get the results within 2 weeks. The doctor who arranged the biopsy will give them to you.

Waiting for test results can be worrying. It may help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.

For support and information, you can call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

If the lump turns out to be non cancerous (benign) you may not need any more treatment. If it is sarcoma, your doctor will talk over the treatment options with you.

Information and help