A study involving 2,000 pancreatic cancer patients at the Mayo Clinic campus in Jacksonville, FL challenged the myth that biopsies can cause cancer to spread. The January 9 online issue of Gut detailed the study, which showed patients who received a biopsy had better outcomes and longer survival rates than patients who did not have a biopsy.
Researchers used fine needle aspiration, a minimally invasive biopsy technique that uses a thin and hollow needle to extract cells. The research findings may apply to other cancers since the technique is commonly used across tumor types.
In the past, patients and even physicians feared the spread of cancer cells via biopsy. “This study shows that physicians and patients should feel reassured that a biopsy is very safe,” said the study’s senior investigator and gastroenterologist Michael Wallace, M.D., M.P.H. “Biopsies are incredibly valuable. They allow us to practice individualized medicine — treatment that is tailored to each person and designed to offer the best outcome possible.”