Small nodules or cysts can raise concerns about the presence of cancer or other serious illness. These lesions are often found on a diagnostic scan and may or may not be palpable (i.e. felt by yourself or your doctor). Using live ultrasound scanning and usually with local anaesthetic, a fine needle is passed into the nodule or cyst and cells or fluid are obtained for analysis by a pathologist who is usually on site for the procedure. Common examples of such lesions are thyroid nodules, breast cysts, and lymph nodes (glands) in the neck. Biopsy just means to take a small sample of a lesion for closer examination outside the body.
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