A medical procedure where a sample of tissue is taken from a tumor and then sent for tests to learn more about it - mainly, whether it is benign or malignant, if it is cancerous, and if so, what kind of cancer. Typically a local anaesthetic is used, and the doctor uses a sterile biopsy punch (it'll have a short round tube of with a cutting edge at the end, and a hollow plastic tube as the grip (and presumably also to collect the sample, but quite frankly I wasn't too keen to watch the doctor digging in to my leg so I didn't look too closely)) to excise the tissue. For a small tumor/mole, the entire thing can be removed, which is very convenient if it turns out to be malignant, but for larger abnormalities they'll just take a sample. The site is sewn up with stitches, and the sample sent to the lab. Biopsies can also be done with a thick tipped needle, but it's the same general principle.

As far as I know, biopsies are mainly used where skin cancer of some variety is suspected, but as I'm not a physician (hell, I work in finance), I can't say for sure.

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