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Needle biopsy underused in breast cancer diagnosis, negatively impacting diagnosis and care
Date:6/9/2014

Needle biopsy, the standard of care radiological procedure for diagnosing breast cancer, is underused with too many patients undergoing the more invasive, excisional biopsy to detect their disease, according to research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also finds that patients are often influenced by surgeons to undergo the unnecessary surgery -- a decision that's costly and can negatively impact their diagnosis and treatment.

A needle biopsy is a non-surgical procedure typically performed by a radiologist that uses a thin needle to remove sample tissue from the breast. The procedure was originally endorsed as a reasonable standard of care in 1997 by a Joint Task Force comprising the American College of Surgeons (ACS), College of American Pathologists and American College of Radiologists.

The procedure was endorsed as a quality measure by the ACS in 2006, says Benjamin Smith, MD, associate professor in MD Anderson's departments of Radiation Oncology and Health Services Research.

"Still too often in my practice, I see patients that come to MD Anderson for care after having an excisional biopsy performed for diagnosis, when they obviously could have had a needle biopsy," says Smith, the study's corresponding author. "Often, the excisional biopsy negatively affects other aspects of breast cancer treatment and is simply a wasteful procedure. With this study, we wanted to quantitate the magnitude of that waste on a national scale, and identify some of the impacts of that practice pattern on the well-being of patients."

For the retrospective study, Smith and his colleagues reviewed Medicare claims of 89,712 patients diagnosed with breast cancer from 2003-2007. All were treated with breast conserving surgery and radiation. The study also identified 11,279 diagnosing surgeons and 12,405 treating surgeons. Of the patients, 68.4 percent
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Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
713-745-2457
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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