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New technology allows for minimally invasive breast biopsy
July 29, 2011

Written by Don Hura, M.D., F.A.C.S., of Surgery of London


According to the American Cancer Society, women should begin getting annual mammograms starting at age 40. Most routine mammograms come back normal. However, five percent to 15 percent of routine mammograms require more testing, such as another mammogram, ultrasound, or biopsy.


If a lump or abnormality is found, a breast biopsy can be performed to remove some of the cells and examine them under a microscope to determine if they are breast cancer.


Many breast biopsies are performed in the operating room, with anesthesia, using what is known as an “open method.” This method involves making an incision into the breast, locating the lump by vision or feel, and taking a piece of the lump directly. It is an excellent method but requires the physician to be able to directly know where the lump is so it may be directly felt and biopsied.


However, thanks to technology such as digital mammography, many breast lumps are now being discovered long before they can be felt. This allows physicians to diagnose breast cancer at a far earlier stage when the cancer is tiny and more curable. But how does a physician obtain a tissue sample of a breast lump when it cannot be felt?


At the Battelle Breast Care Center at Madison County Hospital, we use a "stereotactic biopsy" method as a minimally invasive way to biopsy very small breast abnormalities. Not only can this procedure test for breast cancer at the earliest and most treatable stage, but it can be done with minimal discomfort to the patient. Stereotactic biopsy can be done without anesthesia or IV’s, and a patient may resume her normal activities immediately following the procedure.


This newer technology is designed to take two separate views of a patient’s breast at different angles. At this point, a tiny needle is directed toward the abnormality by a surgeon and small tissue samples of the area are taken and sent for biopsy. The entire procedure takes approximately 20 minutes and the patient receives nothing more than a small bandage over the entrance sight — not even any stitches!


Stereotactic biopsy also gives a very accurate answer as to the origin of breast abnormalities. The device can not only be used to diagnose breast lumps, but also other abnormalities, such as breast calcifications, that can sometimes be an early indicator of breast cancer.


Remember, the main advantage of the stereotactic breast biopsy device is that if a patient’s breast abnormality is a breast cancer, and is so small it cannot be felt, it allows the physician to find the abnormality and make the diagnosis when the cancer is at a very curable stage. And this can now be done with the minimum of risk and discomfort to the patient.


Having performed many of these stereotactic biopsies here at Madison County Hospital, I am willing to answer any questions or discuss any concerns relating to this biopsy method or breast cancer in general. Please feel free to call our office at anytime.


Dr. Don Hura's office is at Surgery of London, 54 W High Street in London. To make an appointment or speak to Dr. Hura call 740-490-7244.

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