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When a woman is told that she has an abnormality on her mammogram and/or breast ultrasound, it's often a very frightening and emotional experience. Most commonly, a woman may be told that the results are benign, and that she needs to return in 6 months for a repeat study. Generally this means that the finding on the mammogram or the ultrasound is most likely non-cancerous, and the radiologist just wants to confirm that by monitoring the lesion.
But sometimes, the recommendation from the radiologist is that the lesion be biopsied. Obviously this is even more anxiety-provoking, but women should remember that 80 percent of the lesions we biopsy are non-cancerous.
These diagnostic biopsies should almost always be performed as a minimally-invasive needle biopsy as opposed an open surgical procedure. Currently, too many women are undergoing surgery to obtain a diagnosis. Surgery should be generally reserved for therapeutic reasons. Many women undergoing a needle biopsy will not need to have surgery because the results are usually benign.
The most common reasons for undergoing surgery after a needle biopsy is if there is a finding of atypical cells, cancer, a benign lesion that has the potential of having a malignancy associated with it - meaning it may develop or have cancer cells near it. Another reason might be if there is discrepancy between the biopsy and radiology results.
Once there is a need for surgery, you should talk to a breast surgeon/specialist about the different surgical options available to you. Never be afraid to get a second opinion from a surgeon and/or a pathologist.
Next week we'll talk about surgical options for women once they've been diagnosed with cancer.
Dr. Cynara Coomer is an assistant professor of surgery specializing in breast health and breast cancer surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She is a FOX News Health contributor providing medical expertise on a variety of topics in cancer research with a focus on women's health, breast diseases and tips for healthy breasts at any age.