Easing Breast Biopsy Anxiety and Improving Precision with GPS-Like Technology - Virtua Health, NJ

Easing Breast Biopsy Anxiety and Improving Precision with GPS-Like Technology

By Michelle Shen, MD, Breast Surgeon—Virtua Breast Care

You aren’t alone if you have anxiety before a mammogram—it’s stressful to be screened for breast cancer, which can be a life-threatening disease. But, when your mammogram reveals “something suspicious,” and you need further testing, that stress and anxiety increases tenfold. 

After a suspicious mammogram, the next step for most women is a diagnostic breast biopsy. Since half of suspicious breast lesions can’t be felt, a breast surgeon often performs a diagnostic breast biopsy with localization. Localization is a process for pinpointing the location of the lesion or lesions in the breast so the surgeon can take a tissue sample to determine if it’s cancer.

Virtua breast surgeons are performing localization using a GPS-like technology from Faxitron. A tiny chip, called a tag, is inserted into the breast up to 30 days before surgery. This tag uses radio waves to send a signal to a handheld device, guiding the surgeon to the precise location for the biopsy or lumpectomy, which is the surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue.

Anxiety relief is the greatest advantage but there are other reasons to use this technology. The chip can be inserted the week or day before surgery, making the day of surgery less overwhelming. In addition, the chip’s precise localization accurately pinpoints the suspicious lesion, minimizing the amount of breast tissue removed and reducing the need for additional surgery.

Before Faxitron’s localization chip, wire localization was the most commonly used technique. Just before wire localization surgery, the radiologist places a wire into the breast at the location of the suspicious lesion. The technique is precise, but it can be uncomfortable since the wire sticks out of the breast until surgery starts. In addition, it’s done the same day of the surgery, making for a much longer and more stressful experience.

Even when found in its early stages, breast cancer can be a frightening diagnosis. By using Faxitron’s innovative technology, we hope to ease that fear and improve comfort for patients undergoing breast biopsies and lumpectomies.

If you’ve had a suspicious mammogram and want to consult a Virtua breast surgeon, call 888-847-8823

For the latest news on breast cancer and support groups, sign up today for Virtua’s monthly Good Vibes newsletter.

Updated May 27, 2020

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