By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
There are several non-cancerous conditions that may require a biopsy. Some of the other indications for biopsy can be outlined as:
Inflammatory bowel diseases
Biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract to detect suspected inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. Regular biopsies are taken to assess the activity of disease and to assess changes that appear before the lesions turn cancerous.
Renal or kidney biopsy is indicated in alterations of renal function. Biopsy of kidney is combined with fluorescence microscopy. This helps in diagnosis of several forms of glomerulonephritis. Other indications include:
Focal segmental glomerulonephritis
Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis
Crescentic Glomerulonephritis etc.
Benign breast diseases
There are several benign breast conditions that require biopsy. Some of these include:
Fibrosis and simple cysts
Fibrosis are scar-like tissue formation in breast while cysts are fluid-filled sacs. These are called fibrocystic changes. They are most often diagnosed by a doctor based on symptoms, such as breast lumps, swelling, and tenderness or pain. The symptoms worsen just before the periods. These changes are most common in women of childbearing age, but they can affect women of any age. They are the most common benign condition of the breast.
Hyperplasia or overgrowth of the cells that line the ducts or the lobules of the breast. Depending on the growths they may be ductal hyperplasia or lobular hyperplasia.
Lobular carcinoma in situ
These are abnormal cells that look like cancer cells and grow in the lobules of the milk-producing glands of the breast. This is not cancer but may progress to cancer.
Fibroadenoma and adenosis
In adenosis, the breast lobules are enlarged, and they contain more glands than usual. This is not cancerous. Sclerosing adenosis is a special type of adenosis in which the enlarged lobules are distorted by scar-like fibrous tissue.
Fibroadenomas are benign tumors made up of both glandular breast tissue and connective tissue. They are most common in young women in their 20s and 30s.
Other benign breast conditions
Other benign breast conditions that are diagnosed on biopsy include Phyllodes tumors, Intraductal papillomas, Fat necrosis and oil cysts, infections and inflammation of the breast or mastitis, radial scars, lipomas, hamartomas, hemangiomas, hematomas, adenomyoeptheliomas, and neurofibromas. None of these conditions raises breast cancer risk.
Infectious diseases are also diagnosed with biopsy. Lymph node biopsy is commonly performed to diagnose infectious diseases
Certain metabolic disorders like Amyloidosis where degraded proteins accumulate in body tissues can be diagnosed using a biopsy.
Biopsies of transplanted organs are performed to check for graft rejection and also to see if the disease that necessitated transplant has not recurred.
In cases of infertility that is not diagnosed by other methods, a testicular biopsy is used. This is needed when the sperm quality is low, but hormone levels still are within normal ranges.
Biopsy of the temporal arteries to detect vasculitis
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
Last Updated: Nov 8, 2012