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This literature review examines evidence relating to needle biopsy of the breast and the potential for later tumour cell migration into adjacent tissues.
A literature search was undertaken, using Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library.
The results were analysed by the following: (1) Histological evidence of spread (seven papers addressing this were scrutinised; number of patients reviewed was 1,046). Tumour cell displacement occurs in about one-third of patients, the majority do not survive displacement. Vacuum biopsy techniques may reduce seeding potential. (2) Clinical evidence of recurrent disease (nine papers were scrutinised; number of patients reviewed was 1,575). Sporadic reports of tumour recurrence suspected to be a consequence of a biopsy procedure are described. Care to excise the site of needle biopsy is advised by some, especially if outside the radiotherapy field. (3) Likelihood of seeding dependent upon tumour type (three papers were scrutinised; number of patients reviewed was 258). There is limited evidence to suggest lobular carcinoma is less likely to seed than ductal.
There is histological evidence of seeding of tumour cells from the primary neoplastic site into adjacent breast tissue, following biopsy. However, clinical recurrence at the site of a needle biopsy is uncommon. This event may be lessened by use of vacuum biopsy techniques. The site of needle biopsy should be considered at the time of surgery.