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Needle Biopsy Works Well in Diagnosing Breast Cancer
Date:12/15/2009

It's nearly as accurate a surgical method, with fewer complications, analysis finds,,,,

TUESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to diagnosing breast cancer, women and their doctors have some options, but new research suggests that the less invasive "core needle biopsy" procedure is nearly as effective in diagnosing breast cancer as an open surgical procedure is, with fewer complications than the surgical version.

The new analysis, scheduled to published in the Jan. 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, looked over data from more than 100 studies comparing different biopsy methods. It found that core needle biopsy and surgical biopsy provided women with roughly similar results.

"Our findings were that any core needle biopsy has a lower risk of complications, and was almost as accurate as surgical biopsy," said the study's principal investigator, Wendy Bruening, the associate director of the ECRI Institute Evidence-based Practice Center in Plymouth Meeting, Penn.

Additionally, Bruening said that "women diagnosed with core needle biopsy were more likely to be treated with just one surgical procedure."

The U.S. government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality commissioned and funded the study.

Biopsies are only done after other tests, such as a mammogram, suggest that breast cancer might be present. In any biopsy procedure, a sample is taken from the suspicious area and examined for signs of malignancy.

An "open" surgical biopsy can be done using either general or local anesthesia, explained Dr. Karen Stanford, a surgeon at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. During this procedure a scalpel is used to open the skin so that the sample can be taken. Because it's a surgical procedure, scarring is a likely complication.

Core needle biopsy, on the other hand, uses a large needle with a hollow center to draw out a "core" sample from the suspici
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