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I have been recommended for a stereotactic biopsy.

By March 7, 2010 - 3:18pm
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I have had a stereotactic biopsy and it is degrading and painful. I looked it up on the web and a number of women are saying this also happened with them. Why would such a painful and horrific test ever have been invented and why is it still used?

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I did have the needle localization biopsy and a piece of tissue 5cm x 4cm x1cm was removed. No cancer. Huge crater underneath my skin. It will fill in with scar tissue i imagine and now that I have had at least 8 biopsies, I presume it will not be too far in the future when i will have no breast tissue just scar tissue. Yes, colonoscopies are not exactly fun, but you are out, no painful tissue removal....maybe some polyps if you get those and not many after effects. Big plus is no one looking at your rectum while you are awake. With a breast biopsy, there is lots of interaction with doctors and my breasts and they are all total strangers.... that makes me feel weird.plus not too many women in radiology....lots of men. Maybe if they took some fat from my stomach while i was out, it would be a win/win situation....I lose some of that fat(stomach) and a little bit of breast tissue.

April 9, 2010 - 11:58am
HERWriter Guide (reply to celtic845)

Dear Celtic845

I'm very glad to read that you are cancer free but your procedure sounded painful and inhumane - although I like your sense of humor about some lipo while they were at it!

celtic845 - what about your future - have you been told that another biopsy may be needed? Eight biopsies seem extreme, even when someone has a family history such as yours.

April 9, 2010 - 1:41pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

oh it was a joy...the mammograms were digital but the hospital only has the old kind of murky mammograms so the needle to place the wire was a half centimeter off and the radiologist wanted to move it so he would be right on. I persuaded him that half centimeter was okay as the surgeon would be taking 1 centimeter each direction from the wire. He took much, much more. I always get this way when I am recommended for a biopsy....it's a combination of fright, anger and loss of control, and I so don't want a bunch of men poking and prodding my breasts. I will have a follow up mammogram in four months to create a new baseline for the future. I guess it just depends on whether i form new clusters of suspicious calcium spots. They explained that when the calcium clusters like that, it could be the footprint of fast dividing cells such as cancer, so they have to remove them (and huge portions of my breasts, I guess.)

April 9, 2010 - 1:59pm

Here is what I meant. 10 years ago, I had this procedure. It was extremely painful, (think having breast tissue cut out without anesthesia!) and at that time it was negative. Subsequently, I had another mammogram that had suspicious calcium clusters and recommended same procedure...refused it as a I swore I would never, ever have that done again. So they did the procedure where they insert a hooked needle into my breast in x-ray and then surgically removed it upstairs in surgery. That was equally as appalling as the stereotactic procedure. All the biopsies I have had have been benign. Now I am faced with the same situation and from what I can find out, nothing has changed in 10 years...or is it twenty. The Radiologist had the bedside manner of a foolish teenager and I don't feel comfortable signing on for another round of biopsies of this nature....on the other hand I do not wish to be the architect of my own demise. Maybe if there were not so much pain, or if it was done by a woman or if pigs could fly....don't know. I did go on line and discovered I am not the only one who has had a traumatic time with these tests.

March 11, 2010 - 2:06pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to celtic845)

I had same experience as Celtic485 a few years ago. It was inhumane and painful. I swore I would never ever do that again. Fast forward to today. I have been told I need to have another biopsy and to be honest I will decline unless they use general anestheia. I do believe they put you under for colonscopy and I also ask the question, suppose it's a man and you do the same procedure on their private part in the same manner. I explained it to my husband and he said no way would someone put it in a hole, raise a table with it hanging and tell you to lay still for a few hours while they stick needles in it, punch a hole in it, stick wires in it and use suction while several strangers ignore that you are a human being laying there. I don't know why they say it's non-invasive with minimal pain. We deserve dignity and that will only happen if I'm not awake and aware! Thank you Celtic for being honest, I feel so much better that others speak up.

April 26, 2011 - 3:51pm
(reply to celtic845)

Thanks for the additional information---this really does help!

I have no doubt that you, and other women, have found these tests to be extremely painful, degrading and traumatic, and can understand your hesitancy and even being appalled by the recommendation of another round of these tests.

If all of your previous tests have come back negative, and it sounds like your doctor is recommending this to you every 10 (or 20?) years, you certainly do have other options. I can understand your initial question now...have they REALLY not improved the testing conditions for women after this amount of time?!

Do you have a history of breast cancer in your family?

A few options (I'm sure these are not news to you):
1. Second opinion. Are you able to consult with any other doctors who specialize in breast health, who you feel would discuss other options for you (besides going "under the knife" as the first option?).
2. Do you feel that your doctor IS discussing all of the pros/cons and all diagnostic treatment options with you? If not, is this what you are ultimately asking us... what else is there? (We can find out for you).
3. If you like your doctor, but the Radiologist sounds like a [fill in the blank], you can ask for another Radiologist or to be seen at another practice. Are these viable options?

You do not sound like you are the architect of your own demise...you are asking very intelligent, thoughtful questions and wanting to know more about the necessity of these painful procedures before just saying "yes"...because it was recommended by one medical doctor.

I understand you are really wanting to know:
a. Are these round of biopsies necessary...again
b. What are my options, and are they as good as these painful procedures
c. What chances am I taking if I say "no" to these procedures

I will find the answers to these questions above; please let us know what else you are needing help with. It will also help to know more about you-- do you have a family history of breast cancer in the family? Has your doctor explained WHY these are needed, and what other options would/would not work for you specifically?

March 11, 2010 - 2:34pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

1. yes, my mother, sister and maternal aunt died of breast cancer, also great aunts on my mother's side.
2. the Doctor said the microcalcifications are graded 1-5. 1=totally benign 5 = cancer
3. mine are graded 4, too high to ignore. Must have some kind of biopsy.
4. I have been referred to a surgeon that my doctor actually knows, likes and she sent her mother too.
5. Still wish someone was able to develop procedures that aren't quite so barbaric.

March 12, 2010 - 10:14am

Hi celtic845,
I understand your feelings about this test (and many other tests) that can be felt as degrading and painful.

I'm confused, however, as your title says that you've been recommended to have this test (reads: in the future), but your post says that you've already had this test performed.

What were the results of your biopsy?

This procedure is the standard of care for women who may be at risk, or suspected of having, breast cancer. Are you concerned that your doctor did not provide enough information about the procedure in advance? Were you given medications that did not ease your anxiety or pain sufficiently? I know there is nothing that can be done about the degrading part of many tests...men and women feel the same way about colonoscopies, for instance. Many women feel that the "simple" screening mammogram tests are degrading.

Are you hoping to hear from others who have had this diagnostic test performed? Are you asking if others felt it just as degrading, or are you wondering if there are women who felt it was not quite as degrading, or quite as painful, to gain another perspective? Do you feel you had this test under conditions that were not satisfactory? We would love to hear more about your experience, and answer any questions that you have.

March 7, 2010 - 7:15pm
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