AUA Summit - What is a Biopsy?


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What is a Biopsy?

A biopsy involves taking a piece of skin or tissue from the body to look at under a microscope. A doctor will see if the tissue contains cancer or other abnormal cells. The results of the biopsy can help determine the next best step in diagnosis or treatment.

How is a Biopsy Done?

A small amount of tissue is taken using a special tool. When the tissue is taken the patient may be given a numbing agent to prevent pain. Sometimes the patient is sedated.

For certain urological diseases, biopsies can be done on the

  • prostate
  • kidney
  • bladder
  • ureter

Biopsies of the prostate or kidney are done with a special needle. The doctor uses ultrasound or a CT scan to guide the needle.

An endoscope (long tube with an attached light) is used for a bladder or ureteral biopsy. The endoscope is inserted through the urethra.

After a biopsy, your health care provider will explain possible symptoms and side effects of the biopsy. After the tissue is taken, it is sent to a pathologist (a doctor who interprets tissue changes caused by disease). The pathologist studies the sample and writes a report for your doctor.

Updated May 2024. 

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