• Is it possible to get false negatives with a biopsy?

    Asked by HotRodTodd on Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Is it possible to get false negatives with a biopsy?

    2 Answers from the Community

    • nancyjac's Avatar

      That depends on the scope of what you mean. A biopsy examines a very small amount of tissue for cancer cells. Within the area examined, the accuracy is very high and a false negative is highly unlikely for that tissue sample. However, it does not exclude cancer anywhere else. In cases where there are multiple tumors or no well defined tumors or there is reason to believe the cancer has spread beyond the primary site, a single biopsy by itself is not conclusive.

      over 3 years ago
    • Peroll's Avatar

      Todd, yes it is possible that a biopsy will miss the cancerous tissue and give a "false" negitive. This is why they try and take more than one sample from an area they are biopsing, but with things like lymph nodes it is possible that the area has swelling up but the cancer can be in a limited area that gets missed. This actually happened to me with a lymph node in my chest. I had it biopsied twice with no indication of cancer but a couple of years later it grew through my treachea blocking the tube to my left lung.

      over 3 years ago

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