Breast Cancer on the Run in October: (Day 9) Band Aid Biopsies


In the early days of my surgical training, potential breast cancer patients ore patients with an uncertain finding would check into the hospital the night before surgery. They would spend the night in the hospital, have surgery in the morning, stay that night in the hospital and go home the next morning.

They would leave with a bulky dressing, an inch or two incision on their breast, and, in most cases, a loss of a portion of their breast tissue. The operations were not all that deforming, but they could be depending on how the surgery was performed, the patient’s anatomy, and the underlying problem. All this to establish a diagnosis.

2525No more.

These biopsies are now done in a radiologist’s office or in a surgeon’s suite. A small skin nick is made and a device is inserted that removes only enough tissue to establish a diagnosis. No incisions. No significant deformity. Only a band aid to cover the skin nick.

Technologic and engineering advances have fueled this development. Minimally invasive biopsy devices have flooded the market and changed the way we make diagnoses for breast problems, both benign and malignant.

This has been a significant development for a number of reasons. For the patient with a benign problem, a larger operation to establish a diagnosis can be avoided. Countless patients have been spared surgery. Subsequent mammograms are not complicated by large healing areas deep in the breast.

For the breast cancer patient, the diagnosis can be established and work up and more precise treatment planning in anticipation of surgery can be done.

These procedures are done for findings that the surgeon or the radiologist can feel. Or they can be done using the guidance of an ultrasound, a mammogram, or an MRI. You will hear these procedures referred to as core biopsies, stereotactic biopsies, or MRI guided biopsies

Technological developments continue to improve our ability to be precise and accurate and to be less invasive. Only a band aid…..


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