Pathology dictionary

What is an excision?

​An excision is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove an area of abnormal tissue from the body. Most excisions are performed with the intention of removing most or all of the abnormal tissue from the patient in one procedure.

In many cases, a biopsy has already been performed on the same site. The diagnosis reported after an excision often contains more information than the diagnosis performed after a biopsy because an excision provides the pathologist with more tissue to examine microscopically.

For example, a patient may be diagnosed with breast cancer after a biopsy of a ‘lump’ in her breast. After an excision removes the entire lump, the diagnosis will also include the size of the tumour which is required for providing a cancer stage.

Excisions performed on some body sites are given special names. For example, an excision to remove a lump from the breast is commonly called a ‘lumpectomy’.

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Compare excision with biopsy and resection.

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