Breast Biopsy and Second Opinions

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Sandra Cottingham, MD, Ph.D., pathologist with Spectrum Health explains what a breast biopsy is, and what to consider about second opinions in this West Michigan Woman magazine Q&A article.

What is a breast biopsy?
Women with an abnormal mammogram or a lump in their breast may require a biopsy. A core biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that takes part of the area of concern for testing. An excisional biopsy is when the entire lesion is removed. With a core biopsy, if the lesion or lump is definitely benign, no further care is needed unless the lesion is enlarging or painful. If it appears to be malignant, the best approach for care is decided based on the specific case. The number or size of biopsies needed is determined by the results of a mammogram and physical examination.

Is a second opinion important?
Don't hesitate to get a second opinion. It's always an option to consider, especially if the original procedure is evaluated by a provider or health system with limited experience in performing and interpreting biopsies. Research states that the more biopsies a pathologist reviews, the more accurate their findings. If a patient receives a diagnosis that requires further treatment, I'd strongly encourage a second opinion. At Spectrum Health, before we make a diagnosis regarding potential malignancy or if we have any question, we automatically have a second Spectrum Health pathologist review the exam.

To read this article in its entirety, click here for the digital edition of West Michigan Woman magazine.


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