What is Biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed from the penis and looked at under a microscope to detect any cancer cells.

Effects of Biopsy

A biopsy is needed to make an accurate diagnosis. If cancer of the penis is found, more tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread from the penis to other parts of the body (staging).

Candidates for Biopsy

A doctor should be seen if there are any of the following problems: growths or sores on the penis, any unusual liquid coming from the penis (abnormal discharge), or bleeding.

Your Consultation

Check with your physician about stopping medications that can predispose to bleeding, such as aspirin, Coumadin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Also mention any herbal preparations you are taking. Never change your medication regimen without first checking with your physician.

The doctor will examine the penis and feel for any lumps. A biopsy is needed if the penis does not look normal or if the doctor feels any lumps.

The Biopsy Procedure

The type of biopsy depends on the nature of the abnormality. If your doctor finds nodules (swollen lumps) or plaques (raised, flat areas) that are smaller than 1 cm (about 3/8 inch), the entire lesion will be removed by excision biopsy.

An incision biopsy, in which only a portion of the affected tissue is removed, will be performed on lesions that are larger or ulcerated (a break in the skin or it appears to have a sore) or that appear to grow deeply into the tissue. These biopsies are usually done in a doctor’s office, clinic, or outpatient (1 day) surgical center with the patient under local anesthesia (numbing medication). The tissue is then sent to a laboratory, where a pathologist examines it under a microscope.


Abnormal results from a biopsy may indicate the presence of disease, such as cancer, depending on the particular case.


The common risks to this procedure are bleeding and infection.

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Who examines the biopsy?

A doctor specialist for examining tissues samples under a microscope is called a pathologist.

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Why is the test performed?

A biopsy may be performed to obtain healthy tissue can be obtained for the purpose of tissue-type matching for transplants. Unhealthy tissues are more commonly biopsied to diagnose disease.

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What happens during a biopsy?

In this procedure, a small piece of the skin tissue is cut out and sent to a laboratory. There, a pathologist (a doctor specializing in laboratory diagnosis of diseases) looks at the tissue under a microscope to see whether cancer cells are present.

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How will the test feel?

In a needle biopsy, you will feel a small sharp pinch at the site of the biopsy. In an open or closed biopsy, local or general anesthesia is generally used to make the procedure pain free.

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When will I be able to get the results?

The results are usually available within 1 to 2 days after the biopsy procedure.

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