Panel Calls for Expanded Role of Needle Biopsies, MRI and Less Invasive Procedures
Physicians should strive to replace traditional, invasive procedures for diagnosing breast cancer with proven, less-invasive diagnostic methods, according to an international panel of breast cancer experts convened at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
In a consensus paper published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 23 leading surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and oncologists say minimally invasive needle breast biopsies and sentinel node biopsies should be performed more routinely than they currently are. In the case of breast biopsies, the experts say open surgical biopsies should almost never be done, though experts estimate that nearly a third of the 1.7 million breast biopsies performed in the nation are still done this way.
"New technology has changed the face of breast cancer," said consensus panel chair Melvin J. Silverstein, M.D., professor of surgery and Henrietta C. Lee Chair in Breast Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine. "We can do things much less invasively than ever before, and doctors and women need to take advantage of these advances whenever they can."
The panel concluded that minimally invasive needle breast biopsy is "the procedure of choice for image-detected breast abnormalities" and keeps the majority of women with non-cancerous findings out of the operating room. For those who do have breast cancer, needle biopsies allow for better pre-operative planning for breast surgery.