I am sorry that Shruken Fro had such a terrible experience, but there are times I wish people people would try to refrain from scaring the crap out of other people.
First off, almost every single woman has at least one calcification which can be seen on a mammogram. By far, the majority of those are benign. One in ten women who have a mammogram are called back for either more mammographic studies or an ultrasound. Of those, about 15% need further testing (such as a biopsy). Of those women, about 85% of the biopsy results turn out benign. Those really are very good odds.
There are many things, other than cancer, that can cause microcalcifications.....
"Microcalcifications will show up on a mammogram as tiny white flecks in the tissue. Many times these are not cancer; however, in some instances they are associated with very early cancer ( ductal carcimona in situ). Consequently, they need to be investigated thoroughly."
So, look at it this way....if these do turn out to be malignant, you have found them very early! They have been found before a cancer has grown large enough for you to feel. The earlier a cancer is found, the better! And ductal carcinoma in situ has a VERY high cure rate when found early.
According to the following site, the 5 year survival rate of women who are diagnosed with Stage 0 ductal carcinoma is 100%!
Secondly, a needle core biopsy should not be painful. I have never heard of someone having 27 (or was it 29?) cores removed. The most I have seen taken are 10, and that was pushing it. We usually remove about 6 cores. So, this kinda makes me think of a woman who was in labor for 12 hours, but after retelling the story, it suddenly becomes 72 hours, because it is a better story. A core biopsy, done either by mammographic guidance (in the case of certain masses or microcalcifications) or ultrasound guidance are really very easy procedures. And they are highly accurate. Because the radiologist can see the area of interest (mass or calcification), he can get a very accurate sample of that exact area. In the case of ultrasound guided core biopsies, we can actually see the needle enter the mass or butt up against the calcification, so we know the samples are accurate. The pathologist receives only the area of interest, so the results are much more accurate than an open biopsy, where there is a large tissue sample. The pathologist cannot look at every single cell in a sample, so the less tissue, the more likely he will have accurate results. It is like finding a needle in a ball of yarn compared to a haystack!
A core biopsy is very cost effective. An open biopsy requires a hospital OR bill, an anesthesiologist bill and a surgeon bill. Considering only about 15% of all breast biopsies turn out to be cancer, an open biopsy can be very expensive.
A core biopsy does not leave a scar. And I am not just talking about aesthetics here. An open biopsy leaves an internal scar, which looks much like a breast cancer on mammographic films.
When doing a core biopsy, we numb the area that is being biopsied. We usually use Lidocaine, like your dentist. You know how that stings for the first 5 or so seconds that it is introduced. After that, there should not be pain. And, other than the occasional drama queen, I have not heard patients complain about pain. I have assisted the radiologist in many of these procedures (if I had to come up with a number, a conservative number would be 500 procedures). Post procedure, you are able to get back to your normal lifestyle. We ask patients to take it easy the rest of the day (ie, no vacuuming or lifting weights), but after that, there are no restrictions.
All this biopsy talk is probably for nothing....but if they do request a biopsy, I strongly suggest looking into a needle core biopsy. If they want to get a sample of the microcalcification, research "stereotactic" or "stereotaxis" breast biopsy. If they want to biopsy the lump you feel, reseach "ultrasound guided breast core biopsy." It is definately the way I would go, if I were faced with a biopsy. Best wishes to you!
Please read this site....it probably explains things much better than I ever could!