Mammographic Needle Localization Biopsies

Todd Doyle, MD
Last Modified: June 18, 2009

Question:

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
In my last mammogram they found 9 microcalcifications in a cluster in my left breast, which was an increase over past mammograms.

It was suggested to my husband and me that I have a biopsy procedure done. They explained that I would go for another mammogram, and the radiologist would insert a needle, then a wire of sorts to pin point the location for the surgeon. She would then make a small incision and then somehow remove an area slightly larger than the area of the cluster of calcifications.

Is this sufficient or should I be having a surgical procedure?

Answer:

Advantages of an excisional biopsy include:

  • complete knowledge of histology prior to planning further surgical treatment should cancer be found
  • avoidance of false negative biopsies due to a sampling error (possible when pieces of tissue are biopsied with other modalities such as fine needle aspirations)
  • If cancer is found and the specimen margins are negative for tumor, the biopsy may serve as the definitive lumpectomy

Disadvantages include:

  • the need for an incision and scar
  • discomfort, anxiety
  • increased health care costs

For an increase in number of clustered microcalcifications on serial mammograms, particularly when no mass is palpable, a needle localization biopsy is an indicated procedure. You should discuss all the specifics of your case with your oncologist.

Read more about Needle localization biopsy.

Blogs

The Dreaded Mammogram Call Back
by Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
October 7, 2013


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