A biopsy is a simple surgery to remove a sample of soft tissue or bone. It is done when a dentist or physician wants to have the sample examined in a laboratory. The purpose is to find out the nature of an abnormality, called a lesion. It may be caused by an illness or an injury. The lesion may be an area of soft tissue or bone that appears unusual or diseased. It could be a new bump, or a patch of skin that has changed color or texture.
There are two types of biopsy: incisional and excisional. An incisional biopsy removes a piece of tissue from a lesion. It is a sampling. An excisional biopsy removes the entire lesion. In both cases, the tissue is sent to a laboratory.
The type of biopsy performed depends on many factors. For example, if the lesion is small and your dentist suspects that it is not cancerous (benign), an excisional biopsy may be done. However, if the lesion is large or there is concern that it may be cancerous (malignant), an incisional biopsy is likely.