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BCRF Provides Context to Breast Biopsy Study

By BCRF | March 18, 2015

On Wednesday, March 18, The New York Times featured a front page story on a study published in this week’s “Journal of the American Medical Association” (JAMA). The study discusses breast biopsies, a procedure where doctors remove a small piece of breast tissue and examine the cells under a microscope. The goal of this procedure is to determine whether breast tissue cells are cancerous or benign.

The article highlights some of the study’s findings, including the challenges of interpreting results from breast biopsies for less serious conditions such as atypical cells or ductal carcinoma in situ. BCRF grantee Dr. Elisa Port of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who was not involved in the study, is quoted in The New York Times article. She cites the key role of skilled pathologists who specialize in breast disease when analyzing biopsy results. 

separate editorial on the JAMA study was authored by BCRF grantees Drs. Nancy E. Davidson from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and David Rimm from Yale University School of Medicine.

BCRF Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton and Scientific Advisory Board Chairman Dr. Clifford Hudis, both of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, comment as follows:

“There are many possible diagnoses whenever a biopsy of a suspected abnormality in the breast is examined under a microscope. When an invasive cancer–the most serious abnormality–is identified, the rate of errors was found to be very low in this recent study. This finding is very reassuring.  For some of the changes that are less than invasive cancer, good pathologists can have subtle differences of opinion. Patients should discuss the implications of all diagnoses with their doctors. In some cases, when there is uncertainty, additional opinions might be helpful.”