Can a Biopsy Spread Cancer Cells Around the Body?
Many patients and even some doctors believe that the removal of the tumor tissue for pathological analysis could trigger the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. A recent US study shows that this risk is not only minor in comparison to the benefits of the biopsy, but can also improve patients' survival rates.
A biopsy is a pathological analysis of tissue or cells extracted from the body. The analysis is performed using chemical, immunological and even genetic technology. A long-year myth, shared by many patients and even some doctors, is that this procedure can cause the spread of cancerous cells around the body. A recent study, surveying over 2,000 patients in Florida, challenges the credibility of this myth.
The study was conducted with pancreatic cancer patients, but it is reasonable to assume the findings apply to other cancer types as well, since the method used to extract the biopsies – Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy, is used for the majority of malignant tumors.
Fine Needle Aspiration is a procedure in which a fine and hollow needle is inserted into a tissue with the purpose of extracting tissue parts or cells and transferring the extraction to the laboratory. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and do not require hospitalization. After several hours of observation of the patient discharged home.
The participants of the study were pancreatic cancer patients who were treated from 1998 to 2009, divided into two groups: patients who went through pre-operative biopsy and those who did not.
The results of the comparison between the two groups showed that in the group of patients who underwent pre-operative biopsy of the pancreas, 50% of the cases were fatal to the average duration of life of 22 months. The patients who did not go through a pre-operative biopsy, however, showed 64% fatal cases with an average duration of life of 15 months. From the results of this comparison, it is rather simple to conclude that pancreatic cancer pre-operative biopsy can improve prognosis and prolong the life of the life of patients.
The US study does not give a conclusive answer to the question "whether a biopsy is dangerous", but it clearly shows that the benefits of a biopsy are much greater than its possible minimum risk. Pre-operative biopsy of the tumor may improve the prognosis and the result of cancer therapy.
Cancer Diagnosis at Herzliya Medical Center
Cancer diagnosis at HMC provides patient with the most advanced diagnostic methods, including laboratory tests, various imaging techniques and minimally invasive biopsy techniques. Pathological examination of biopsy tests in the advanced hospital laboratory allows our oncology specialists to choose the most effective individual treatment plan for each patient.