Either you, or someone you know has been, or will be touched by breast cancer. While there are early prevention and treatment options they are not always comfortable. However, Avera Sacred Heart has unveiled state of the art technology that is making the experience less stressful and more effective.
Every woman knows breast health starts with regular mammograms, these preemptive screenings look for lumps or abnormalities that aren't always seen or felt.
"You have to realize that 80% of the things in women's breasts are not cancerous, thank goodness, so we really don't want to have 80% percent of women really worried and concerned unnecessarily." Said Dr. Ralph Tullo, a radiologist with Avera Medical Group Radiology Yankton.
If something suspicious should appear on your mammogram a breast biopsy is usually the next course of action. In the past a biopsy would require anesthesia, a scalpel and a scar to get the lump out. Now things are much simpler.
"In this case we are able to remove, I call it the lesion, the lump, the bump, the mass completely through the skin." Said Dr. Tullo.
The procedure is called large core vacuum biopsy. Essentially, a needle is guided into a breast by ultrasound, placed over a lump so a sample or the entire lump can be removed.
Lumps can be all shapes and sizes. With this technique, lumps up to the size of a quarter can be removed through a needle that is only about half as wide as a drinking straw. For many people that's still one big needle but it's a much better option than an open biopsy or having to reinsert smaller needles multiple times.
"It's so much less traumatic the needle goes in once from the skin to the lesion or mass and it's automated and literally removes it, I can take 2, 3, 5 or as many samples to remove the mass and the surrounding abnormal tissue." Said Dr. Tullo.
It's an outpatient procedure that can take as little as 30 minutes. While most lumps may be benign if one is cancerous, doctors have a head start on treatment with the lump already extracted. Either way this procedure can take a tremendous weight of a patient's shoulders and mind.
"As physicians we tend to say but we can do a little skinny needle biopsy but then the woman says I still have a lump in my breast doctor, thank you very much but it's not cancer, it's benign but I don't want it there! The new technology allows us to say we've taken it all out so it's not only out of here (points to chest) it's out of here, it's out of their mind." Said Dr. Tullo.
By making the process quick and efficient, Avera Sacred Heart is doing it's best to also remove the fear from these checkups that help keep you healthy.
Even with technology getting more advanced, Dr. Tullo encourages women to stay on top of their mammograms, their follow-up studies, and any additional clinical breast exams. For more information about breast biopsy options just call 877-AT-AVERA.