New biopsy technique to detect breast cancer
It is a well known fact that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer afflicting women. Most breast cancers (8 out of 10) occur in women who are over the age of 50. The most common signs of breast cancer are; (a) an area of thickened tissue or a lump in the breast, (b) pain in the armpits or breast that does not seem to be related to the woman's menstrual period, (c) a rash around (or on) one of the nipples, (d) a swelling (lump) in one of the armpits, (e) discharge from one of the nipples which sometimes may contain blood, (f) changes in the appearance of the nipple or change in the size or the shape of the breast.
Diagnosis and treatment
There are several types of breast biopsy techniques available in order to diagnose breast cancer. Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB), Trucut or Core Needle Biopsy (CNB) are the conventional methods. But a newer technique--Vacuum Assisted Biopsy (VAB)—has now become popular in clinical practice.
Dr. Shilpa Lad, specialised radiologist in Breast Imaging and Interventions, says that VAB is a safe and minimally invasive procedure in which a sample of breast tissue is removed for examination. “Based on the vacuum technology, the device not only cuts through the targeted point in the lesion with a single entry but also part of the lesion surrounding the targeted area by virtue of its ability to suck in and cut through a zone around the target. This ensures a bigger sample and hence accurate and timely diagnosis. VAB is typically indicated for biopsy of indeterminate or suspicious microcalcifications seen on a mammogram,” says Dr. Lad.
Advantages of VAB
“The advantages of a VAB are that it is a non-surgical biopsy which can be performed in an out patient department (OPD) basis under a local anaesthetic and the accuracy of this procedure is equivalent to a surgical biopsy,” says Dr Lad, adding that a lot of patients also fear undergoing surgical excision biopsy and in such cases VAB procedure comes handy.
The procedure takes no more than 20 to 30 minutes to perform and costs anywhere from Rs35,000 to Rs50,000.
Dr. Shilpa Lad is a specialised radiologist in Breast Imaging and Interventions who has trained and worked in Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Dr Lad is currently practising at NM Medical Center, Mumbai, India.