New Technology Precisely Marks Suspicious Breast Lumps Before Biopsy to Ease Patient Anxiety
By James Crawford, MD, Breast Surgeon—Virtua Breast Care – Voorhees
You aren't alone if you have anxiety before a mammogram. Breast cancer can be a life-threatening disease, making screenings a bit stressful. But, when your mammogram reveals "something suspicious" and you need further testing, that stress and anxiety increase tenfold.
After a suspicious mammogram, the next step for most women is a diagnostic breast biopsy. Based on the biopsy results, surgical removal of breast lesion and surrounding tissue is sometimes recommended. This is known as a surgical biopsy or lumpectomy.
Since you can't feel most suspicious breast lesions, a breast surgeon often performs a surgical 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 at the forefront of localization technology use. Our team currently performs localization using multiple technologies based on patient-specific needs. These technologies include GPS-like and radar chips. One of these chips is inserted into the breast up to 30 days before surgery. The chip guides your surgeon to the precise location for the lumpectomy using radio waves or radar reflection to signal a handheld device.
Anxiety relief is the most significant 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 localization chips, 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. While this technique is precise, it can be uncomfortable since the wire sticks out of the breast until surgery starts. In addition, it's done on 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. Using innovative technologies, we hope to ease that fear and improve comfort for patients undergoing surgical breast biopsies and lumpectomies.
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Updated September 19, 2022