Breast Biopsy Preference May be Linked to Overestimation of Breast Cancer Risk

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According to a recent survey study by Dr. Lars Grimm of Duke University School of Medicine, some women prefer an immediate breast biopsy to follow-up imaging.

The findings suggest that women who believe there’s any chance that they have breast cancer are more comfortable with an immediate biopsy – a preference Dr. Grimm believes may be linked to an overestimation of their breast cancer risk.

Dr. Grimm and his team of researchers examined women’s perceptions of their own breast cancer risk, their threshold for choosing a breast biopsy, and their anxiety levels using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

Participants were asked for responses to two hypothetical scenarios:

  • A radiologist recommending short-term follow-up imaging six months after the initial exam
  • A radiologist recommending an immediate breast biopsy, with the acknowledgement that there was a low risk of malignancy

Women with high baseline anxiety levels estimated their breast cancer risk to be 27 percent more than twice the average woman’s risk of 12.4 percent. In the first scenario, participants estimated their risk at 33 percent; and just 46 percent of those women were willing to wait for hypothetical follow-up imaging. However, when an immediate biopsy was recommended, women estimated their risk at 46 percent; and 66 percent said they preferred a breast biopsy if there was any chance at all of breast cancer.

“For a select group of patients, especially those women with high baseline anxiety and a personal history of breast cancer, a recommendation for biopsy instead of short-term follow-up may lead to less regret and more relief,” Dr. Grimm said in an interview with AuntMinnie.Com.

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