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Breast Cancer Health Center

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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

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have a breast biopsy that turns out to be benign are typically told to undergo another imaging test, such as a mammogram, in six to 12 months. Now, a new study suggests that the longer interval might be better.

Researchers who followed women who had benign breast biopsies say having that test less than a year later finds few cancers and is a drain on health care dollars.

''Doing a follow-up imaging study six months after a benign needle breast biopsy has a low likelihood of finding breast cancer at the biopsy site," said study author Dr. Andrea Barrio, an attending breast surgeon at Bryn Mawr Hospital, in Pennsylvania.

Most of these women, she said, can wait longer than six months before repeating the mammogram, ultrasound or MRI.

Dr. Demitra Manjoros, a breast fellow at Bryn Mawr, is due to present the research Thursday at the American Society of Breast Surgeons' annual meeting, in Chicago.

A biopsy is done after an abnormality is found on an imaging test such as a mammogram. The standard of care is to perform an image-guided needle biopsy, Barrio said.

"However, when you do a needle biopsy, you only sample the lesion or abnormality, instead of removing it," she said.

So, the follow-up imaging was suggested. Under current National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines, the repeat imaging is recommended six to 12 months after a benign breast biopsy.

"In my practice, I perceived that this short-term imaging did not seem to add anything to the care of the patient," Barrio said.

So, she launched the study, focusing on 337 women who had benign biopsies and met one other criterion: Their pathologic findings explained the finding on the image. Researchers then looked to see if the interval for repeat imaging made a difference in finding cancer.

Of the 337 women, 169 had imaging repeated less than 12 months after their benign biopsy result. Another 101 had no documented imaging test repeated. And another 67 had repeat imaging 12 months or later after the biopsy.

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