Needle biopsies are as accurate as open surgical procedures in diagnosing breast cancer, according to a report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). A comparison of traditional surgical biopsies that involve anesthesia and sedation with core needle biopsies, initiated in 2007, brings to light evidence that diagnosis through surgical biopsy may no longer be considered the "gold standard."
This is good news for women and their doctors who don't want to skimp on quality assurance but would like to reduce the harm of diagnostic tests. Needle biopsies can be done under local anesthesia. They also costs less than surgical biopsies and are preferred by patients, according to the AHRQ report, which is part of a Federal effort to compare alternative treatments for health conditions and make the findings public.