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Diagnosis and Staging

Acute Diagnosis and Staging of Breast Cancer

If screening tests indicate that you could have cancer, the next step is to have a biopsy. During this test, cells from the area of concern are removed so they can be studied in the lab. There are several types of biopsies. Your physician will determine which one is best for you. Biopsies are performed at The Star and Tobias Women’s Health Center at CentraState by specially trained radiologists or surgeons and an all-female team of nurses and clinicians.

  • Stereotactic Needle Biopsy (STNB)—STNB is a core biopsy that uses X-rays and computer coordinates. It offers a groundbreaking alternative to standard, open surgical biopsy. STNB procedures are performed in an outpatient setting using local anesthesia. During this procedure, small samples of tissue are removed for analysis using a hollow needle. This revolutionary diagnostic procedure is less invasive, less painful, and less costly than traditional surgical biopsy.
  • Breast Needle Localization—Prior to surgery, a radiologist localizes the area in the breast to be biopsied by inserting a guidewire. The guidewire "hooks" around the area to be biopsied. The patient is then immediately transported to the Operating Room, where the surgeon makes an incision following the guidewire and accurately excises the targeted tissue.
  • Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy—This type of biopsy is useful when suspicious changes are detected through mammograms and ultrasounds, but no abnormality can be felt during an exam. The minimally invasive procedure involves no exposure to radiation, is performed in an outpatient setting, and takes less time than a traditional surgical biopsy.
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy—A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a way of pinpointing the first few lymph nodes into which a tumor drains (called the "sentinel" node.) This helps doctors remove only those nodes that are most likely to contain cancer cells since the sentinel nodes are the first place cancer is likely to spread. This may help to alleviate the need for additional nodes to be removed if the sentinel node is negative.

Lab results are analyzed to determine if the tissue is benign (non cancerous) or cancerous. If it is cancer, then the biopsy can help to tell what type of cancer it is and whether or not it is invasive. Other clinical tests may be needed to determine the stage (extent) of the cancer. For example, is it confined to the breast or has it spread. Once the stage is determined, an appropriate treatment plan can be developed.


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