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Breast Cancer Health Center

Benign Breast Biopsy: When to Get Follow-Up Mammo?

Study suggests imaging tests done less than a year later find little cancer, drain health care dollars
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Of the 169, just one breast cancer was identified. Of the 67 who had repeat imaging at 12 months, no malignancies were found.

The cost of detecting a missing cancer with the shorter interval follow-up was nearly $193,000 in this group.

The study findings support a policy of discontinuing repeat testing less than 12 months after such a benign finding, Barrio said.

The findings don't mean no one should have shorter-term imaging follow up, Barrio said. While in general, routine short-term repeat imaging after such a benign biopsy is not needed, she said, "I'm not saying nobody should do it."

"Certain women would require six months follow-up," she said. For instance, a woman whose initial imaging findings were vague or not specific might be advised to get repeat imaging in less than a year, she said.

A breast cancer expert commented on the new research.

The study is sound, said Dr. Laura Kruper, director of the Cooper Finkel Women's Health Center and co-director of the breast cancer program at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif.

"I think most women would be fine having repeat imaging in 12 months," she said, "but it should be done on a selective basis." A doctor must take the whole patient into account, she said, weighing such factors as family history and a woman's views of the testing intervals.

"There are some patients who are going to be so nervous waiting a year," Kruper said.

The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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