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Deciding to biopsy

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
 
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Deciding to biopsy

Previous | Next | Back to Breast Cancer Center | Breast cancer- Understanding breast changes

Not every lump or mammographic change merits a biopsy. Nearly all mammographic masses that look smooth and clearly outlined, for instance, are benign. Your physician needs to thoughtfully weigh the findings from your physical examination and mammogram along with your background and your medical history in forming her or his recommendation.

Although benign lumps do not turn into cancer, cancerous lumps can develop near benign lumps and can be hidden on a mammogram. Even if you have had a benign lump removed in the past, you cannot be sure any new lump is also benign.

In some instances the doctor may suggest watching the suspicious area for a month or two. Because many lumps are caused by normal hormonal changes, this waiting period may provide additional information.

Similarly, if the changes on your mammogram show all the hallmarks of benign disease, your doctor may advise waiting a few months and then taking another mammogram, to be followed by additional mammograms over the next 3 years. If you choose this option, however, you must be strongly committed to regular followup.

If you feel uncomfortable about waiting, express your concerns to your doctor. You may also want to get a second opinion, perhaps from a breast specialist or surgeon. Many cities have breast clinics where you can get a second opinion.

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