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Short-Term Follow-Up a Viable Alternative in Some Cases

Posted Nov 30 2009 12:00am
According to new research published in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, short-term follow-up of palpable breast masses might be a reasonable alternative to biopsy in some cases.  In their study, investigators examined cases of women who had palpable breast masses and who were recommended short-term follow-up (rather than biopsy) because breast imaging suggested that the masses were benign (non-cancerous).  Data from 320 women with a total of 375 palpable masses were available for analysis.  Of these 375 lumps, 85 were biopsied shortly after discovery and only 1 of these 85 turned out to be a form of breast cancer.  After the follow-up period (average length was slightly more than 2.5 years), only 26 of the breast lumps (about 7%) had grown.  Twenty-four of these 26 lumps were biopsied and no breast cancer was diagnosed.  The overall results showed that breast cancer incidence in these women with palpable masses defined by non-cancerous imaging characteristics was only 0.3%, suggesting that short-term follow-up might be a reasonable alternative to biopsy for women with benign looking breast masses.

This is good news for many women.  If routine breast screening results in the discovery of a lump and further evaluation of the lump shows benign characteristics (according to this new study, these characteristics included: round or oval shaped, clear margins, and equal tissue density compared to normal breast tissue), short-term follow-up might be one option to discuss with your physician.  Short-term follow-up would potentially be less invasive and in this new study was less expensive.  Of course, the final decision as to whether to proceed with a biopsy or not will depend upon a physician's recommendations and one's own personal risk of breast cancer among other factors. 

In addition to getting routine breast screening examinations, there are many diet and lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your personal breast cancer risk.  Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer (www.fightBCnow.com) to learn more.
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