health diaries

Needle Biopsy Safety

I received an article in an email today. It talks about a June 2004 report from the John Wayne Cancer Institute in California. Here is the first paragraph:

"Needle biopsies, widely used and accepted as a safe and reliable test for cancer, may not be safe after all. The concern is that the technique may accidentally cause malignant cells to break away from a tumor, allowing it to spread to other areas of the body. And according to a study from the John Wayne Cancer Institute, it appears that a needle biopsy may increase the spread of cancer by 50 percent compared to patients who received excisional biopsies, also known as lumpectomies."

Another article to check out on this subject states the following:

"The report's authors state: "Manipulation of an intact tumor by FNA or large-gauge needle core biopsy is associated with an increase in the incidence of SN metastases, perhaps due in part to the mechanical disruption of the tumor by the needle." This is a discreet way of saying that needle biopsy, an increasingly common procedure, was itself responsible for spreading the cancer, although the authors take pains to qualify this disturbing conclusion by suggesting that not every cluster of cancer cells found in the regional lymph nodes will inevitably end up developing into clinically apparent cancer.
The implications of this study are vast, since patients who are found to have cancer in their lymph nodes are automatically classified at a higher stage and therefore face much more extensive treatment than those who have small tumors that are limited to the breast."

I posted about a core biopsy I had in August. I had read articles about the possible spreading of cells before this happened. My mother died from breast cancer. She had a biopsy and she had a mastectomy. Her lymph nodes were clear. After five years she thought she was pretty safe. But it had gone to her liver. Whether something had escaped from the biopsy we will never know.

When I was laying on the table trying to make a quick decision on a core biopsy I asked the doctor about the chances of it spreading from a biopsy if it turned out to be malignant. I seem to remember some kind of vague answer that I wasn't satisfied with, but because I was in a state of shock and she had said it was probably nothing...and I wanted to get it over with quickly, I went ahead with it.

I would NEVER do that again. Why take that risk if you don't have to? It makes perfect sense that a biopsy could spread the cells, doesn't it?

Filed under Breast Biopsy | Comments (1)


I'm taking a natural HRT alternative I found in England Bionutra NutraFem. My Mom died of breast cancer & I'd been on HRT 4+ years when the NIH study came out. My symptoms were severe. It's a natural product, so it took a month or so to work 100%, but now my hot flashes are rare & I sleep through the night. It helps with the libido, too. I liked it so much that I became a distributor in the U.S. Read about it at


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