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Pain-free breast biopsy now offered at St. Luke's

Pain-free breast biopsy now offered at St. Luke’s

In this day and age, odds are that we know, or know of, someone who is suffering from breast cancer. According to the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS), the breast is the country’s second leading cancer site, and the first among women. It is also the leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipino women.

Despite that, many still seem unperturbed by the huge possibility that they, or someone close to them, could be the next victim. Warnings from the country’s many breast cancer support groups seem to be falling on deaf ears.

The National Asian Women’s Health Organization (NAWHO) reminds the public that early detection is a woman’s best shield against breast cancer. If cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the survival rate is 96.8 percent, but if it is detected at a later stage, the survival rate drops to only 20.6 percent.

Also, the Philippines has always kept pace with the advancements in diagnosing and treating breast cancer. Almost all hospitals are equipped with breakthrough practices and devices that provide for a more accurate, less invasive, not to mention painless, procedure for diagnosis.

At St. Luke’s Breast Center (SLBC), patients are given a number of options for their breast biopsy. They could choose to undergo fine needle aspiration, have a mammogram, get an ultrasound, or try the Mammotome Breast Biopsy System.

SLBC head Dr. Alejandro Dizon recommended the last for its many advantages: "We leave the decision to our patients, of course, but we always recommend that we use the Mammotome first, because it is cheaper. Second, because it saves them from unnecessary surgery, and third because it is by far more efficient than other available options."

A procedure with the Mammotome Breast Biopsy System involves a onetime insertion of a special probe through a small incision (about the size of a match head) in the breast where the lump was found.

Guided by ultrasound, the doctor uses the hand-held device to gently vacuum, cut and remove tissue for biopsy in a procedure that typically lasts for half an hour.

The incision in the breast is so small that no stitches are required. Patients can return to their activities immediately after the procedure with only a small adhesive bandage over the incision site.

"It’s really very convenient, especially for working moms. Imagine, they can just rush to the nearest hospital during their lunch break, have their breasts examined, and then return to their office right after," said Dr. Macel Pagdanganan, SLBC Consultant.

"And more than anything, I think what women all over the world would love about Mammotome is that the procedure doesn’t hurt. One of the reasons why some Filipinas are quite hesitant to have their breast examined is they think the procedure is painful. And I think it’s the mammogram that gave breast biopsy that kind of reputation," added Dr. Pagdanganan.

Dr. Dizon cited another reason why breast biopsy using Mammotome is the procedure of his choice: "Here at the SLBC, we are promoting ‘breast conservation.’ In past years, we observed that most of our patients in the later stages preferred to have their breast removed instead of undergoing more laborious procedures.

It is pointless, on our part, if we can salvage it for them. The case is the same in removing benign breast lumps. Mammotome is also capable of that, whereas in the past, that would entail invasive surgery that could leave an ugly scar or even cause deformity if not done properly."

Because the procedure is guided by ultrasound, the Mammotome can locate the accurate spot of a lesion, unlike fine needle aspiration that might require multiple incisions before a lump is accurately targeted.

Dr. Dizon and Dr. Pagdanganan are confident that more Filipinas will be encouraged to have their annual breast examination with the knowledge that a fast, easy and reliable device for diagnosis, such as the Mammotome, is available in the country.

For inquiries regarding the Mammotome Breast Biopsy System, visit St. Luke’s Breast Center.

FROM: Manila Bulletin

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