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Procedure in which cells or tissues are removed from a patient and examined. The sample may be obtained from any organ, by any of several methods, including suction through a needle, swabbing, scraping, endoscopy, and cutting out the entire structure or part of it to be tested. Biopsy is a standard step in distinguishing malignant from benign tumours and can provide other information for diagnosis, particularly concerning such organs as the liver or pancreas. Slides of the tissue are prepared and examined by microscope.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on biopsy, visit Britannica.com.