Sometimes a mass needs to be removed to see if cancer is present. This is called an excisional biopsy. While the patient is awake and pain-free (using local anesthesia) or asleep and pain-free (using general anesthesia), an incision is made over the lump. The length and position of the incision will depend on the size and location of the lump that needs to be removed. After the lump is removed in one piece, it is sent to the pathologist for a microscopic exam. The final report usually is done several days later.
Review Date 11/6/2021
Updated by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery Practice Specializing in Breast Cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.