Can prostate tumors spread from the biopsy?

Last Modified: May 23, 2004

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Does puncturing a prostate tumor for biopsy cause the cancer to leak out of the tumor to other parts of the body? 


Richard Whittington, MD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, responds:

This is a common concern and it has been reported for some tumors such as melanoma, breast, pancreas, bile duct, testicle and ovary. It is rarely reported in tumors such as lung and colon and has not been reported in prostate cancer, lymphomas or brain tumors. In essence, the surgeon will biopsy a tumor because they need to know what they are dealing with and how to plan their operation. If it is one of the tumors that is at risk for seeding the biopsy track they will excise a small piece of skin as well as the track at the time of surgery. For the other ones, they don't need to do it. For lung and colon it appears that the smaller needle used for cytology has very little if any risk for seeding, while a larger core needle used in some other cancers does carry a small risk. However, the risk is very small, and it would not be recommended to forgo a biopsy in light of this extremely small risk.

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