What is the role of stereotactic needle biopsy in the diagnosis of breast lesions?

Updated: Aug 09, 2018
  • Author: Hemant Singhal, MD, MBBS, MBA, FRCS, FRCS(Edin), FRCSC; Chief Editor: Meda Raghavendra (Raghu), MD  more...
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Compared with open surgical biopsy, needle biopsy causes less trauma and disfigurement and is performed as an outpatient procedure with the patient under local anesthetic. [1]  Stereotactic needle biopsy is an important tool in the diagnosis of breast lesions as part of the triple assessment, which includes clinical, radiologic, and cytohistopathologic studies. [2]

Definitively diagnosing these lesions with needle biopsy has several advantages. For benign lesions, establishing a definitive diagnosis obviates unnecessary surgical excision or protracted follow-up, both of which are costly in psychosocial and resource terms. [1, 3, 4, 5, 6]  A definitive diagnosis of cancer allows the patient to make an informed choice and to obtain counseling before surgery. It also facilitates in the planning of multimodal treatment in terms of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, the type of procedure, and early or delayed reconstruction.

The importance of achieving preoperative diagnosis is further emphasized in the quality objectives of the United Kingdom's national breast-screening program to minimize unnecessary benign surgical biopsy and to ensure that more than 70% of women with cancer have a preoperative diagnosis. [7]

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