People who had some kind of cyst or tumor in their body must have had the experience of biopsy. Tissue Biopsy is usually carried out to detect whether the tumor or cyst is an ordinary one or is it because of cancer. For doctors, it is one of the most important tests to find out the disease.

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure in which a small section of the tissue is cut out from the suspected region of the body, and sent to a testing lab, where it will be preserved and monitored under a microscope. This will be carried out by specialized doctors in pathology.

The surgeon will cut out a portion of the tissue from the patient’s body, it will be put in a sterilized and clean container, this container will be sent to pathology doctors for testing.

Pathologist carries out various tests on the tissue to find out if there is any inflammation in its cells or if there is cancer. If it is cancer, stage of cancer and many more details will be revealed during these tests. This information will help a lot to structure proper treatment for cancer and other diseases.

Types of biopsy

  • Taking out an outer portion of a skin surface is one type. For example, Skin tissue test.
  • Another type is where a portion of a tissue is taken from internal organs, such as kidneys, liver, lungs, bones, prostate etc.
  • To take out a little sample of tissue from the outer part of the skin surface doesn’t need any preparation or hospitalization. It can be easily carried out externally.
  • To take out tissue samples from internal organs will need hospitalization and proper preparation. The patient needs to be admitted to the hospital before carrying out this procedure. The patient will also be given anesthesia before carrying out this procedure.
  • In some cases, endoscopy will also be carried out to take tissues from food pipe, stomach linings, and lungs.
  • There is also a procedure to remove a part of a tissue to test before carrying out surgery.
  • Doctors will also remove a portion of the tissue from the tumor during surgery and send it to test.
  • There is a procedure called Fine-needle aspiration biopsy or FNAB, where the affected organ will be identified using CT-scan or ultrasound and a needle will be directly injected into the affected organ to gather tissue samples or fluids for tests.

What are the difficulties?

It’s normal to feel pain few days after the biopsy. Some people might have bleeding and injury at the place where the tissue is cut out. It can lead to swelling and fever as well. A blood test will be necessary for carrying out a biopsy. Sometimes the patient will need to be hospitalized. The patient must need to wait for a few days to few weeks time to know the test results.

There is a new type of biopsy that was introduced recently that washes off all these difficulties. It is called Liquid biopsy.

What is Liquid biopsy?

Instead of cutting out a portion of tissue, the liquid biopsy will be carried out by taking 10 to 15 ml of blood samples.

How is it carried out?

It is a kind of DNA test. It will be carried out by splitting nucleus inside blood cells. Commonly, if a person has cancer in his body, those cancer cells will be mixed with his blood and these cells will be circulating throughout the body. Using ctDNA in these cancer cells, doctors will detect the cancer type. During the initial stages of cancer, only certain cells will have ctDNA. Even initial stage cancers can be accurately detected using this method.

Apart from this, we can even find out whether a particular person has future possibilities for cancer and also if their future generations are under similar threat. It is really useful in finding out if a person has the probability for cancers that are hereditary like lung cancer, colon cancer, bone cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, and uterus cancer, and take measures to effectively prevent it from happening.

What are the uses?

Most prominent danger in cancer is that it’s hard to detect in its initial stages, it can mature over time and appear out of nowhere. But by using liquid biopsy test many of these hard to detect cancers like colon cancer, ovarian cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and many other cancers can be detected in its initial stage and cured completely. Also, this test can be used to detect how effective the treatment being given for cancer really is. Above all, this test is fairly easy to conduct on patients. So they need not have to go through hardships of being hospitalized and other procedures.

Who really needs this?

People with family history of cancer. Those who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and those who constantly exposed to radiation (people living near nuclear facilities). These people can take a liquid biopsy test to find out if they have chances for cancer in future.