Guidry News Service recently visited with University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Associate Professor of Surgery Dr. Taylor Riall, the author of a study of the use of breast biopsy surgery in women suspected of breast cancer, rather than minimally invasive biopsy. Listen (6:56)
She said most doctors now recommend minimally invasive procedures done under ultrasonographic or X-ray guidance, with either a fine needle or a “core tissue extraction” needle, rather than open surgery.
“This decreases the number of operations that a patient has to have,” she said. “It increases patient comfort and it is equally as good at establishing the diagnosis of breast cancer.”
However, the study showed that only 65 percent of breast biopsies in Texas were minimally invasive procedures, and that the percentage of compliance with the recommended standard of care varies from area to area.
“What we find is that some areas have reasonably high rates; some areas have very, very low rates,” she said. “And, that even across areas, these rates changed over time.”
She said the study shows that the use of minimally invasive procedures is increasing, but still is not achieving the recommended rate of 90 percent.
Dr. Riall said that geographic patterns don’t tell the whole story, citing variances within areas. As an example, she noted that Houston has an overall 75 percent rate, but stresses that the high rate may not prevail throughout the city.
“Not everybody is at 75 percent,” she said. “So that within that area there are surgeons or physicians who have much lower rates than that and surgeons or physicians who have much higher rates than that.”
The University of Texas Medical Branch performs non-invasive biopsies more than 90 percent of the time.
“I think it’s very important for the word to get out to patients so that they know,” she said. “So if they see a surgeon or a primary care doctor who recommends an open biopsy as the first line, that they have the ability to say, ‘what about this technology?’”
Dr. Riall said the education campaign must also include physicians.