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Biopsy to test for childhood cancer

A biopsy is a test where a doctor takes a piece of tissue out of the body to check for cancer cells.

Key points to remember

  • a doctor may remove part of a tumour for testing if they think it is cancerous
  • sometimes the doctor may remove the whole tumour during the procedure
  • the type of biopsy your child will have will depend on their specific clinical circumstances

What is a biopsy?

A surgeon may remove part of a tumour for testing if they think it is cancerous (malignant).

There are 2 ways to do this:

  • a small needle through the skin (needle biopsy)
  • a small operation (open biopsy)

A radiologist may also do a CT (computerised axial tomography) guided biopsy. In some cases, the doctor may remove the whole tumour during the procedure. A specialist doctor (a histopathologist) will study the sample. The doctor can tell whether or not it is cancerous and exactly what kind of tumour it is.

The type of biopsy your child will have will depend on their specific clinical circumstances.

Will my child be awake or asleep?

Some biopsies happen in the operating room under general anaesthesia (completely asleep). Other biopsies happen using local anaesthesia (numbing the skin and tissues).

The type of anaesthesia the doctor uses will depend on where the tumour is in the body and your child's condition.

Getting results

It usually takes a few days to get the results. Sometimes your child will need specialised tests to look more closely at the tumour tissue. Chromosome analysis or special staining tests can help with the diagnosis.

Click Donate to fund the ongoing development of the Circulating Tumor DNA project which will improve outcomes for those children already diagnosed with cancer.

Disclaimer - Content on this blog is for educational use only. Please consult your doctor or other health professional to make sure the information is right for your child.
Copyright - Please note that the information on this blog is copyright owned by The Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation. See copyright information at the Kids Health website.



 

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