Breast Biopsy Made Easier: An Arizona First

Breast Biopsy Made Easier
Tina Paulsen listens as Linda Greer, MD, explains a new 3D biopsy technique that is faster and more targeted. It also results in less radiation for the patient.

Tina Paulsen is no stranger to breast biopsies. She's a cancer survivor diagnosed in 2012 with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in her left breast.

But her right breast is actually a greater source of concern; it has been biopsied seven times over the past several years because of calcifications. When she says she never wants to have a biopsy the "old" way again, she means it.

The West Valley Realtor was one of the first patients to have a biopsy using state-of-the-art technology first available in Arizona at John C. Lincoln's Breast Health and Research Center.

"This revolutionizes the biopsy process for women," Tina said. "When you consider what a woman goes through, psychologically and emotionally, prior to having a biopsy — this is how every woman should be biopsied."

The technology is Hologic's Affirm breast biopsy guidance system designed to attach to the 3D mammography machine.

The advanced minimally invasive biopsy technique complements the 3D mammography system used at the John C. Lincoln Breast Health and Research Center for the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.

Benefits of an Affirm Biopsy

In addition to complementing 3D mammography to detect breast cancer, the Affirm system offers:

  • Improved imaging quality.
  • Faster procedures.
  • High precision.
  • Lower total X-ray exposure.

Faster, More Comfortable

Linda Greer, MD, a radiologist and medical director of the Center, advised Tina to have her biopsy done using the Affirm system because she'd had a very uncomfortable experience with a previous biopsy. Using the Affirm system, the patient can sit upright.

"The breast is compressed, like during a mammogram," Dr. Greer said. "For biopsy targeting, either a stereo pair of images is taken, or a 3D image set can be used. We simply mark the lesion on the image, and the software calculates the exact location and moves the needle to the correct position. After the breast is numbed, the needle takes an average of six tissue samples, which takes less than one minute."

Dr. Greer said the new biopsy technique has several key advantages over standard 2D biopsy procedures, including faster targeting and fewer X-ray exposures, resulting in shorter patient procedure time and reduced radiation for the patient.

Tina said her latest biopsy was fabulous. "I could sit, and I was impressed with how quick the procedure was. My breast wasn't compressed to the point of being uncomfortable."

"I left the patient room smiling," Tina said. "And I found my husband waiting for me with a warm neck pillow on and a cup of coffee in his hands. The Breast Health and Research Center treats me and my caregiver as one unit, knowing that both of us need care and attention during this time."

The next business day, Tina found out the biopsied calcifications were atypical. She'll have surgery because it's "best to remove them before they cause trouble."

"When you get a diagnosis that you need another biopsy, you don't know what you're up against," Tina said. "John C. Lincoln's Breast Health and Research Center takes a very caring, full-service, hands-on and family approach to health care."

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