How accurate is needle biopsy?

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Question from Pony: If you have a needle biopsy for a suspicious mammogram, how accurate is it and does it later cause discomfort or aching in the breast?
Answers - Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. There are many types of needle biopsies that can be performed. The accuracy of each is dependent upon multiple factors. One type of biopsy that we term FNA, fine needle aspiration, is a tiny needle placed into a mass, extracted and evaluated under a microscope. The accuracy of this particular type of biopsy is extremely dependent upon the ability of the pathologist to read the pathology and centers that use FNA often times have a pathologist that specializes in cytopathology. The other form of needle biopsy that is used very commonly is either a core biopsy or vacuum-assisted biopsy. These biopsies obtain a true specimen of breast tissue for the pathologist to evaluate and as the size of the core increases, so does the diagnostic accuracy of the biopsy. With a needle biopsy or vacuum-assisted biopsy there is less than a 10 percent chance that a diagnosis would differ from that of an open biopsy. Breast centers will vary the type of biopsy that is the standard at that center, depending on the specialists available to interpret the specimen.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Open for Your Questions featured Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. and moderator Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answering your questions covering a wide variety of issues relating to breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2006.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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