For anyone who finds a lump in the head and neck, and wonder if it is cancer, a biopsy is needed to find out. But, what is a biopsy, what types of biopsies are available, and which one is a better choice? To find out, read on.

Understanding Biopsies

A biopsy is a procedure to get tissue from a lump or bump (mass) to see what is causing the lump and if you have cancer or not.

Types of Biopsies

There are several types of biopsies that your doctor can perform to find out what that lump in your cheek is (i.e. salivary gland). The most common are:

  • Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA): Using a small thin needle, the doctor removes cells for microscopic analysis.  This is done in a doctors office, with only local anesthetic if necessary. A small Band-Aid is usually used after the procedure.
  • Incisional: The second type of biopsy is an incisional biopsy. Your doctor makes a small incision and removes a chunk of tissue for analysis. This is much more involved and requires stitches and bandaging, as well as more anesthesia. If it’s in an area that they can easily reach, they’ll do it in their office. However, if it’s deeper or harder to get at, it is performed in an operating room.

Why FNA is the Better Choice Over an Incisional Biopsy

First, a fine needle aspiration biopsy is minimally invasive. You won’t have the larger incision as with the other type of biopsy. In addition, no stitches are needed, and you can usually resume your normal routine during the same day of the procedure. With an incisional biopsy it takes longer to heal and there is a higher risk of infection.

This is why it’s so important to find a biopsy doctor Los Angeles that is an FNA specialist. They’ll be able to perform your FNA biopsy efficiently and professionally, and you’ll be able to return to your daily routine with minimal interruption.


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Celina Nadelman, M.D.

1125 S. Beverly Drive #602
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Call us: 310.702.6701