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Study Finds Too Many Surgical Breast Biopsies Performed
Date:2/21/2011

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"Surgery is an essential part of the treatment for breast disease, but certainly surgical biopsy is not the first line of diagnosis or defense," Shapiro added. "This practice of using needle biopsy should have been changed many years ago. Needle biopsy should be the first option doctors turn to in order to diagnose and identify what a breast lesion is exactly before removal. Surgery is an effective tool for the removal of benign and malignant breast lesions or when a needle biopsy is inconclusive."

Dr. Deborah Axelrod, director of clinical breast surgery and community outreach at the NYU Cancer Institute, added: "This is an important study which shows overzealous excision of breast lesions where the diagnosis could be made through minimally invasive interventional methods. If they can be diagnosed without a trip to the operating room, then so much the better. You are saving a woman the anxiety of the OR experience, a larger scar, possibly anesthesia, expense and asking their family or friends to take time off to accompany them and take them home from the surgery."

"Additionally," she noted, "if you look at other countries, the rate of malignant and benign biopsies is different than in the United States, where we do many more surgeries to obtain a cancer diagnosis. Here, the rate is about two per 10 biopsies which are malignant compared to Sweden, where the rates are approximately over 50 percent."

More information

For more on breast biopsies, go to the American Cancer Society.

-- HealthDay staff

SOURCES: Richard Shapiro, M.D., associate professor, department of surgery, NYU Langone Medical Center, and director, surgical oncology operations, NYU Cancer Institute, New York Ci
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