First minimally invasive breast biopsy performed at PMH

May 15, 2007
Betty Henchenski, for one, is very glad that Pender Memorial Hospital offers women faced with having a breast biopsy the option to choose a much less invasive procedure and stay close to home.

“I’m fine,” said Ms. Henchenski, immediately after her stereotatic procedure. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be at all.”

Each year, more than 550 women in Pender and Duplin counties have mammograms that suggest a biopsy should be performed to rule out cancer. Previously, women would require a surgical biopsy or they were forced to drive more than hour to have the less invasive procedure. Now women can choose to have a stereotatic biopsy performed close to home on a specially equipped Mobile Biopsy Unit that comes to the Pender Memorial campus in Burgaw monthly.

“I live close by so coming here (to Pender Memorial Hospital) is more comfortable,” said Ms. Henchenski, a Rocky Point resident. “The people here are very nice. Everybody goes out of their way to be nice, and the doctor explained everything to me.” Ms. Henchenski was very pleased that her primary care physician talked to her about this alternative, non-surgical option.

The stereotatic technique allows a patient to have a biopsy performed through a very small incision that doesn’t require stitches and can be done without having to go into the operating room. Dr. Larry Dashow, board-certified general surgeon on the PMH medical staff, has had extensive training on this procedure.

“I can now provide this service to our patients in a modern and convenient setting right here in our area,” said Dr. Dashow. “This procedure, which has been in use for five to six years, allows for an extremely quick recovery and, most importantly, obtains the correct diagnosis.”

In this one-hour outpatient procedure, the woman lies on a table while the doctor places a tiny probe through a small incision about the size of a match head. A local anesthetic is given to minimize any discomfort. With assistance from a specially trained radiology technologist using x-ray imaging, the doctor can accurately pinpoint the suspicious tissue and remove a sample for further examination. The incision does not require stitches and the patient can generally return to normal activity immediately. After the procedure, the patient returns to her primary care physician to discuss her plan of care.

“One in five biopsies results in a cancer diagnosis, which means that four women must undergo unnecessary surgery to rule out cancer. But, this technique gives women who present with a suspicious mammogram and were afraid of the surgical biopsy procedure a less invasive option,” said Dr. Dashow. “We all know that breast cancers may be curable if they are found and treated early so it’s important to have a biopsy done if the mammogram indicates something unusual is there.”

The best way to detect breast cancer early is through regular screening mammograms. A mammogram may show a lump is present even when it is still too small to be felt by a woman or her doctor, or when there are no other symptoms such as a pain or nipple discharge. Women 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

To schedule an appointment for your annual screening mammogram, call (910) 259-5451 ext. 204 today or ask your physician to refer you to Pender Memorial Hospital. If you require a biopsy, discuss your options with your physician to see if a stereotatic biopsy available at Pender Memorial Hospital is right for you.
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