What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is the removal of all or some cells or tissue for examination. The sample of tissue, and possibly culture from bacteria, can be taken from any part of the body. The sample will be sent for testing and will be looked at under a microscope. After the findings, your healthcare provider will talk to you about the results. Remember — just because you are having a biopsy does NOT mean you have cancer.

What is a biopsy used for?

Although biopsies are used to find cancer, they can also be used to discover:

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/06/2017.


  • NHS. Biopsy. Accessed 4/3/2018.
  • Radiologyinfo. Biopsy Overview. Accessed 4/3/2018.
  • Meric-Bernstam F, Pollock RE. Chapter 10. Oncology. In: Brunicardi FC, Andersen DK, Billiar TR, Dunn DL, Hunter JG, Matthews JB, Pollock RE, eds. Schwartz's Principles of Surgery. 9th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2010.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy