Dr Chetan Deshmukh

A Biopsy

Written by  Tuesday, 09 September 2014 00:00

“I don’t want to undergo a biopsy; it can cause the cancer to grow faster.”

Quite a few patients share this notion. Patients are advised a biopsy of a suspicious looking tumour and they stay away from the procedure fearing that cutting or piercing the tumour with a needle will ‘tease’ the cancer and increase its rate of growth and may cause the cancer to start spreading.

What is a biopsy? A biopsy is removal of a small piece of a lump or tumour. This can be achieved by a minor surgery or a modified needle- tru-cut biopsy gun. Only in rare cases one has to resort to a major operation or laparoscopy to obtain a biopsy. The small piece of tissue thus obtained is sent for pathological examination. The pathologist can then tell us whether it is a cancerous growth or not.

The fear of cancer `spreading’ due to biopsy arises from the notion that the tumour is `handled’ during surgery and this may cause some of the cancer cells to get dislodged from their position and enter the surrounding blood vessels. This spread mechanism is thought to bring about spread of cancer.

To set things straight, most biopsies today are done using a tru-cut gun biopsy where the tumour `handling’ is negligible. Even in case a surgical incision is made and biopsy obtained, the actual time for such a procedure is short and this does not involve a significant tissue handling either. In any case, the risk of cancer spreading if left undiagnosed and untreated is much higher than the risk of it spreading due to a biopsy. Patients who defer a biopsy out of such wrong notions often present with a very advanced cancer which is often difficult to treat or cure. Most importantly, a doctor will never initiate treatment of cancer merely on the basis of suspicion or a CT scan report. Treatment of cancer can only be started once a conclusive proof of cancer- a pathology report-is obtained. So avoiding a biopsy for fear of spread of cancer may ironically, achieve the same- spread of cancer due to a delay in treatment of cancer.

It is understandable that patients have their fears about a surgical procedure, however minor it may be. But avoiding a biopsy is NOT the correct option. It would be prudent for patients to discuss the exact procedure of a biopsy with their treating doctors to alleviate their fears.

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Read 4820 times Last modified on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 12:07
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Dr Chetan Deshmukh Consulting at



1. Deshmukh Clinic & Research Center,
2. Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital,
3. Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune, Maharashtra, India.


Kolhapur Cancer Center, Gokul-Shirgaon MIDC, Kolhapur-Kagal Road, Kolhapur. Maharashtra, India.


Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital, Near Gulabrao Patil Medical College, Miraj, Maharashtra, India.