Every day I perform mammograms at Pink Hibiscus Breast Health Specialist Centre for patients who have a few fears; their first and foremost is the process of having a mammogram done, while their second is having the results and whether surgery will be required.
Many women associate surgeries with pain and anesthetic, but the greatest fear of them all is scarring.
If your doctor feels anything suspicious in your breast, or something is seen on your breast imaging studies, a biopsy may be recommended to confirm whether the cells are cancerous or not. In the golden ages having surgery was the only method of patients getting a diagnosis of any abnormality presented during their breast examinations. This, however, is no longer the case. Breast biopsies are now done prior to surgery. A biopsy is a small procedure done to remove tissue from an area of concern in the body which will be sent to a lab to be tested by a pathologist.
Needle biopsies utilise various sizes of needles to aid in removing tissue samples for diagnosis of palpable and non-palpable lesions discovered in the breast of both men and women. Due to the recently increased concerns patients are having about breast cancer, various screening methods have been formulated and has been affecting the diagnosis and treatment of early breast cancer, as detection rates have now increased with the use of digital mammography and ultrasound imaging.
Many women are initially offered an open excision biopsy however, an excisional biopsy inevitably leaves a scar. Imagine a wire is placed into your breasts whereby you are then sent to an operating room to have the lesion removed, whereas with a minimally invasive biopsy you can simply sit comfortably on a chair or lay on a bed, a single needle is placed into the breast tissue and the sample is removed within minutes.
One trending biopsy is Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy (VABB), it is done through the skin and requires the use of mammography or ultrasound imaging guidance. Stereotactic Mammography biopsies have computer software which accurately locates the lesion on the mammogram images to help the specialist guide the needle to the specific area in the breast tissue. With ultrasound guidance, the specialist sees live imaging on the monitor as the needle goes to the area of concern. The procedure is done with the use of local anesthetic, similar to what is used by dentists. The needle is placed into the breast which is also attached to a vacuum device, which draws the breast tissue through the needle's aperture, the needle is then rotated to complete an entire 360-degree rotation to remove tissue which is stored in a chamber to be sent for testing. Once sufficient samples have been collected, the needle is removed and pressure is applied to the biopsy site, a biopsy marker is then placed into the patient for future referencing and monitoring, a bandage is placed on the site and the patient is given pain medication and discharged.
VABB are minimally invasive which provides definitive diagnosis, is performed under local anesthesia, does not require stitches, can be done in less than an hour, patients can resume normal activity within a few days and the costs are generally significantly less than a surgical procedure, there is no hospital stay and the greatest part is there is NO SCAR!
So next time you have your breast screening done and a biopsy is recommended ensure to discuss with your breast specialist the various minimally invasive scarless needle biopsy options.
Jyoti Priya Deonarine (RR)
Pink Hibiscus Breast Health Specialists