(04/02/14) - A big game-changer may be coming to breast cancer diagnosis. About
1.7 million women will have a breast biopsy this year. The procedures are
painful and costly - and come back negative about 60 percent of the time. There
is a new way to tell whether a mass is cancerous, no needle required.
A few months ago, doctors found a lump on Roz Sobel's mammogram. It was a scary moment for a woman whose mother, grandmother, sister, cousin and niece all had breast cancer, "my family has a horrible history."
Typically, patients will need a painful needle biopsy to determine if a lump is cancerous. But, Roz took part in a clinical trial testing a new technology called opto-acoustics.
"The thought is that this will help us determine what's cancer and what's not cancer," said Dr. Paulette Lebda, of the Cleveland Clinic.
An ultrasound with a laser is used to look at the distribution of oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood in a lump. It is essentially a blood map for doctors, Lebda said, "usually, benign breast masses can have a different blood profile, or blood map, than cancerous masses."
It turned out Roz's lump was caused by a dog jumping on her, not cancer, "they knew right then and there that it was from the dog."
Studies have shown the technique could reduce the number of biopsies by 40 percent. With the opto-acoustics technology, there's no radiation, no needle, no pain, and no risk to the patient. The test is not intended to replace mammograms, just to decrease the need for invasive biopsies.
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