Biopsy: Types of biopsy procedures used to diagnose cancer

A biopsy can help determine if you have cancer or another condition. Learn about the different types of biopsies and what to expect.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A biopsy is a procedure to remove a piece of tissue or a sample of cells from your body so that it can be tested in a laboratory. You may undergo a biopsy if you’re experiencing certain signs and symptoms or if your health care provider has identified an area of concern. A biopsy can determine whether you have cancer or another condition.

Imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, are helpful in detecting masses or irregular tissue, but they alone can’t tell the difference between cancerous cells and cells that aren’t cancerous. For most cancers, the only way to make a diagnosis is to perform a biopsy to collect cells for closer