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microcalcification and biopsy
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microcalcification and biopsy

2 days ago, my mother's 2nd mammogram report came out and her GP said that there is microcalcification in her left breast, and also that it might be a probable cancer. After examining my mother's breast, the doctor was able to feel something there (which after some research on the internet means it's palpable?) Now, she is scheduled for an appointment with a general surgeon within 3 weeks. However, 3 weeks is too long of a wait (the past 2 days have been agonizing enough), and isn't it better to do something about it right away before it develops into something harmful?
However, our main concern right now is what kind of biopsy will she be getting (I've learned from the internet that there are many types of biopsies depending if it is palpable/not). Actually, I'm quite confused because I read that something is either palpable, or nonpalpable such as microcalcifications. So how can it be both (as in the suspicious area could be felt and yet, the report says there are microcalcifications)? Also, what would the biopsy tell us? Would we be able to know from the biopsy whether the lump (if I can even call it that) is benign or cancerous? What are the chances of it being cancerous? And if so, is it considered the earliest stage of cancer? Finally, depending on what the biopsy tells us, what are the next steps?

Thank you very much. Hope to get a reply soon.
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Dear Cathy C,  Microcalcifications and a palpable mass can be present at the same time.  A biopsy is done to take a sample of an area of concern.  This could be either an area of microcalcifications or a palpable lump or as in your mother's case the both (the same area).  The biopsy sample is then examined under the microscope by a pathologist to see if there is an abnormality, basically whether an area is cancerous or not.  Findings up to the biopsy can be more or less suspicious for cancer but whether an area is cancerous or not, a biopsy is needed to confirm this.  Further recommendations would depend on the results of the biopsy.

Types of biopsies include fine needle aspiration, core biopsy, ultrasound-guided core biopsy, stereotactic biopsy, or open excisional biopsy.  The type of biopsy that is done will be discussed by the surgeon, in general the type of biopsy recommended will be what is the least invasive that would give enough information to make recommendations. Also taken into consideration are how large the breast lump or abnormal area is; where in the breast it is located; how many lumps or abnormal areas are present and if a person has any other medical problems.

Finally, regarding the timing of the surgical consult.  In terms of whether this would have an untoward effect on the results of biopsy, it is unlikely that the findings would be any different.  However, as you say waiting 3 weeks to see the surgeon, then likely more time for the recommended biopsy to be done is nerve wracking to say the least.  The only thing I could suggest is calling to see about cancellations, or perhaps your GP's office could contact the surgeons office to see if there could be an earlier accomodation.
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