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A biopsy is a medical test involving the removal of cells or tissues for examination. The tissue is generally examined under a microscope by a pathologist, and can also be analyzed chemically (for example, using PCR or gas chromatography techniques). When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional biopsy or core biopsy. When an entire lump or suspicious area is removed, the procedure is called an excisional biopsy. When a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, the procedure is called a needle aspiration biopsy.
Many medical conditions, including all cases of cancer, must be diagnosed by removing a sample of tissue from the patient and sending it to a pathologist for examination. Any organ in the body can be biopsied using a variety of techniques, some of which require major surgery (e.g., staging splenectomy for Hodgkin's disease), while others do not even require local anesthesia (e.g., fine needle aspiration biopsy of thyroid, breast, lung, liver, etc).
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.