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Topic: microcalcification questions

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried — Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time.

Posted on: Oct 2, 2008 10:36AM

KRandEsMom wrote:

Hello,

I had my first mammogram which found a cluster of microcalcifications in the right breast.  I went for the diagnostic mammograms with magnifications and the radiologist said that it is indeterminate and I am scheduled for a stereo biopsy on Oct 17.  3 weeks is a long time to wait and I have been looking into what this could mean.  Are microcalcifications only a sign of DCIS, or could they also be a sign of a different type of BC?   The radiologist told me that 80% of those who have biopsies find nothing.  Does that mean biopsies for clusters of microcalcifications?  I was really shocked and surprised and did not think of asking any of these questions at the time.  Thank you.

Heidi 

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Oct 2, 2008 11:11AM leaf wrote:

Unfortunately, microcals can also be a sign of invasive breast cancer.  But several of the abstracts I have read opine that clustered microcalcifications are associated with early breast cancer.

There are probably a lot of factors that go into trying to figure out what your odds are for having a benign result.  It may depend on what equipment your facility uses, and the expertise of the radiologists. Plus, different studies will differ.

In this study, they separated people in terms of the BIRAD score of their mammogram; 34% of BIRADS category 4 were cancerous, and 81% of BIRADS category 5 were.  (I also do not know if they are categorizing DCIS as cancer. I would guess that they are, but I do not know this for sure.)

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/96...

I am not sure what this abstract is saying, but I am *guessing* it means that 21%of the biopsies were positive. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17255409

In this study,it looks like overall there were 33% malignant.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16...

This isn't meant as a complete overview of microcalcifications.  I'm not qualified for that. I am just picking out the first studies I can find.

There are a lot of new, different methods being tried to  better detect microcalcifications, and to reduce the number of biopsies that need to be done.

Its so hard to go through this diagnosis period.  Anyone would be scared in our shoes.  Let us know how it goes, OK?

If you're going through hell, keep going-Winston Churchill

Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, Stage 0, ER+/PR-Hormonal Therapy 07/15/2006 Tamoxifen
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Oct 2, 2008 06:23PM Beesie wrote:

60% of women will eventually get calcifications - they are very common.  And most calcifications are totally harmless.  Unfortunately, it's not always possible to tell from a mammogram film whether calcifications are harmless or whether they are a sign of early stage breast cancer.  So in those cases, a biopsy must be done.  In 80% of cases, the biopsy results are benign.  In the 20% of biopsies where breast cancer is found, in the vast majority of cases what's found is DCIS or DCIS with a small amount of invasive cancer.  It is possible for calcifications to be something more serious, but that's most unusual. 

I know it's impossible not to worry as you wait for the biopsy and then wait for the results, but try not to jump the gun and start thinking the worst.  The chances are good that everything will turn out fine.

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke

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Oct 3, 2008 09:10AM Sylvia42 wrote:

Hi, This is almost exactly where I am.  My first mamogram on Tuesday showed 2 areas of microcalcification in my right breast, and the radiologist wants a stereo biopsy.  I wasn't able to talk to my doctor about that recommendation--he was called away to do a surgery--and so my breast care center just went ahead and scheduled me for the biopsy.  I feel really bewildered and sort of rushed into things.  I have about 5 million questions about the procedure: Is it safe for me to wait a month (the next available appt time with the doctor) and then schedule the biopsy for after I've had a chance to talk to him?  All I know is that it's Bi-Rad 4, whatever that means; I can't get any info out of anyone on the phone at my center.  Very frustrating and scary...

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Oct 3, 2008 09:32AM lvtwoqlt wrote:

Heidi and Sylvia, I had suspicious microcalcifications on my mammos starting at age 44. The first two times the sterotactic biopsy showed ADH which is a precancer condition. As Beesie and Leaf said the only way to know what it could be is by doing a biopsy. Make sure after the biopsies to get copies of all reports and put them in a file even if it is b-9. I found it helpful to have all reports together where I could research each part of it. 

Sylvia a bi-rad of 4 means that the mammo showed something suspicious and a biopsy is needed to determine what it is. My first suspicious mammo occured on Jan 5, my first appointment with the surgeon didn't occur until the end of January and I didn't get the biopsy until Feb 14 so waiting a month for the first biopsyis not really that unusual. I too had to wait until I could get an appointment with the surgeon. After my ADH dx he had me on a 6 month mammo and appointments with him. Since I had the follow-up appointment with him after each mammo, I was able to get my biopsies quicker the 2nd and 3rd times.

This site has been a blessing for me and there are many knowledgable women here to help un-mystify the reports.

Sheila

Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006

Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodesSurgery 02/12/2005 Lumpectomy (Left)Surgery 09/10/2006 Lumpectomy (Right)Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 TamoxifenSurgery 06/01/2007 Mastectomy (Both)
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Oct 3, 2008 09:53AM Sylvia42 wrote:

Thanks, Sheila.  I have been reading around on this site all morning and finding it very helpful.

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Oct 3, 2008 02:15PM, edited Oct 3, 2008 02:16PM by ccchop

Hi

In May I had a cluster of 6 microcalifications show up on my mammo.  It was listed as a BRAID 4.  I went through a stereotatic biospy which showed ADH, and some other fibrocycstic changes.  Since ADH was found, my breast specialist wanted to do a excisional biopsy which I had done.  That biopsy showed ALH and one foci of ADH.  These are beign findings, but these findings make me high risk for breast cancer and I am being closely followed by mammo and MRI's.  Microcalifications can be from beigin findings, so think positive.  I know the wait is really gruelling and I didn't handle all that so well, and that is why I still post on this board.  I would like to offer some words of comfort while someone else is going through that waiting period.  This site was a real help to me when going through a very difficult time of waiting on the results.  Think positive, and know that we are all praying for you.  

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Oct 3, 2008 02:22PM marilynh wrote:

I am also stressing badly -- had a small lesion of which was biopsied in 2006 was B9

Went again 2007 no change - now been for annual screening and the previous cluster gone but another 2 new clusters of microcalcifications  - going for stereo biopsy on the 16th October -- so my mind is now very puzzled where did the 1st one go and now there is more movement.My mind is now really playing games with me i must wait 2 weeks for the biopsy and from what i have been following up is that it is possible that i could have cancer as this was the diagonosed  - indeterminate left calcifications in the upper inner quadrant.I dont have copies of my previous results due to the fact that the clinic i am going to keeps it there.The comments are microcalcifications to be reviewed fro stereo biopsy.I also have heterogeneous dense parenchama breasts.According to the ultrasound and clinical examination no lumps etc.It is only with the digital mammography with computer assisted diagnosis that there is a problem.I am 58 years old and have been on premarin for 15 years -- just keep on getting a new script every time i go for a gynae check up.I am looking for answers and stressing like crazy and of course i like to drink wine in the evenings so now what where to from here.

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Oct 3, 2008 08:02PM Sylvia42 wrote:

So after looking around a lot on this great web forum (thank you to its sponsors and moderators and contributors!), I've decided to go ahead with the stereo biopsy on Thursday (Oct. 9th).  I'm scared: my kids are 3 and 5 years old!

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Oct 3, 2008 08:14PM KRandEsMom wrote:

Thank you so much to all of you who have replied.  And to those of you who are playing the waiting game, at least we have some company.  I tried to get an earlier date for my stereo biopsy, but there weren't any appts.  My poor husband is really worried.  Of course so am I, but trying to keep busy.  My kids are 7, 6 today and 3.  My son has diabetes and so we have a lot of health problems already.  I feel guilty for adding to them.  I'll let you know what I find out, if you all update with your results.  Good luck to all of us!!!!!

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Oct 3, 2008 08:19PM, edited Oct 3, 2008 08:20PM by 12954

Sylvia

Sylvia 

A stereo biopsy is not that bad and you should have results in 4 days to a week. Again as everyone has said there is a strong probabililty that your results will be B9. Even if they show DCIS, it is highly treatable. Keep busy with other things until Thursday- nothing you do or worry about will change what is there ( I know it is hard to keep your mind from going to what if.. esp at night) Find something that needs to be done to keep you busy- do the kids need Halloween costumes? Do you have something else that you can focus on for the next few days?  Some peopke here clean like crazy- much as my house could use it I never go that kind of worry.

Trish

Heidi-  That don't biopsy all microcalcifications- only those that are in worrisome arrangements like clusters, so I would assume the 80% would apply.

Dx 10/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR+
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Oct 21, 2008 09:46AM KRandEsMom wrote:

Just thought I would let anyone who may have to go through this that the stereotactic biopsy wasn't too bad.  I've had little pain since and was just sore.  Wear a sports bra if you can, it seemed to help.  Also, was very lucky.  Had the biopsy Friday morning and got the results Monday evening - benign.  Good luck to everyone out there waiting.

Heidi

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Oct 21, 2008 12:09PM Beesie wrote:

Heidi, congratulations on the benign results.  That's great news!

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke

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Oct 21, 2008 04:41PM, edited Oct 21, 2008 05:45PM by winzcastle

This Post was deleted by winzcastle.
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Nov 7, 2008 04:16PM paknew wrote:

I just joined the club this week.  I don't know yet when my biopsy will be.  It is hard to keep your mind off of it.  Reading your stories has been really helpful.  I feel like I have new friends!

Congrats to Heidi....it's great and really helpful to hear a happy ending.

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Nov 7, 2008 06:42PM Dukemom2 wrote:

paknew,

I'm sorry you had to join us here, but this is a great bunch of women (and men).  The understanding, support and advice here is amazing. 

Please be sure to let us know when you get a date for your biospy!  If you have any questions, ask away.  You can also come here just to vent any time.  We all have been there, and we understand!

Dukemom

"You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Nov 7, 2008 07:48PM paknew wrote:

Thank you Dukemom!

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Nov 20, 2008 03:46PM sarahg wrote:

You seem to have a lot of info.  I am freaking our right now - I am a few days shy of 36 - started having mammograms a couple years ago because I had a benign tumor removed from my breast as a teenager.  They called me back in today and enhanced mammogram showed microcalcification - around 15 small ones in a cluster in my right breast - BiRad 4.  I have an appointment with a surgeon tomorrow and hopefully will have the stereotactic biopsy next week.

Any stats for someone with my info?  I am concerned about the number in the small cluster.

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Nov 20, 2008 04:00PM lvtwoqlt wrote:

Sara, when I was at the point you are at now, waiting for the biopsy after abnormal mammo, I too didn't have a lot of info and was freaking out. I had my first abnormal mammo showing microcalcifications resulting in a sterotactic biopsy when I was 44, it was b-9 ADH (pre-cancer). 80% of the time the biopsies for microcalcifications are b-9. I don't know specifically about your question on the number in the cluster. Make sure that you get a copy of your path report from your doctor, even if it is b-9, it will help you plan any steps later on.

Sheila

Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006

Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodesSurgery 02/12/2005 Lumpectomy (Left)Surgery 09/10/2006 Lumpectomy (Right)Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 TamoxifenSurgery 06/01/2007 Mastectomy (Both)
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Oct 17, 2011 09:21AM Tpx400 wrote:

I went to a mammogram and was told I have a clustered microcalcifications on my right breast and should get a biopsy.  This was the first time and I contacted my Obgyn and she referred me to a surgeon.  I had to leave the next week for a business trip so I can't even see him until the following week. My mammogram was even 3 months late this year because my Obgyn forgot to prescribe me for one when I went to see her.  I hope this is not delaying anything because I am also freaking out as to what this all means. 

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Oct 17, 2011 09:30AM leaf wrote:

Tpx400- I wouldn't stress.  Even in the Worst Case Scenario - most people go there - most breast cancers have been in the breast for some 5-10 years (not a typo) before they can be detected by ANY means (including mammogram, palpation, MRI, ultrasound, etc.) 

Its totally understandable that you are concerned - we all want to be ready for what is ahead for us.  

Here is an excellent website about microcalcifications, courtesy of momzr.  http://www.radiologyassistant.nl/en/4793bfde0ed53

As Bessie said earlier, calcifications are very common.  They probably didn't tell you the BIRADS evaluation.  (They usually biopsy ratings 4 and 5.)  Here's more on BIRADS scores. www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/...

If you're going through hell, keep going-Winston Churchill

Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, Stage 0, ER+/PR-Hormonal Therapy 07/15/2006 Tamoxifen
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Dec 7, 2011 11:40AM kikiinkwywest wrote:

 Hi ladies,

 I have had "irregular" mammos since the first one. "Highly cystic" ultra sounds etc etc. I have lumps, many lumps, some small some not so small. I never worried (after the first time) when I found a new lump and knew I had a mammo coming up. Well I went for my annual one on Saturday and now I have a "cluster of microcalcification" and am suppposed to make an appointment for a more magnified test. I have the worlds worst insurance, a $5000.00 deductible. I am a widow with 2 daughters/students lliving at home- make about 40,000.00 a year. I was going to ignore the next test because of finances, but this site kinda told me not to, I do not have $5000.00 and will not ever. If I have to get saddled with this $5000.00 bill (plus after that United Health only pays 60% for anything else) I do not want it to be now, at the end of 2011 and then I will be hit with another $5000.00 deductible 1/1/2011. If the worst is found out, I luckily had the wherewithal to get supplemental insurance if ever diagnosed with cancer, Am I safe to wait until after the new year to continue with this testing?

Karen Ortega

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Dec 7, 2011 12:57PM cycle-path wrote:

Kiki, the women on this board can't speculate about the seriousness of your situation because 1) we aren't doctors and 2) even if we were doctors we haven't seen your films or even read the report of the radiologist. You must call your doctor and ask these questions.

Eventually the doctor will probably want to do a biopsy, and 80% of biopsies come back benign. So it's really not very likely that you have cancer. However, on the off chance that you do, you can begin looking for organizations that will help you with medical costs. They exist in every state.

1) Call the doctor TODAY and find out whether s/he thinks further tests can wait until Jan 3. If so, make an appointment for Jan 3.

2) Do a little preliminary research about organizations in your area that can help you financially. You might post a new thread asking for info about organizations in Florida. You've posted in an old thread and might not get many answers here. But call the doctor FIRST. 

I am an Uppity Woman. Don't like my posts? Put me on IGNORE.

Dx 12/10/2010, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Dec 8, 2011 04:40AM Moderators wrote:

kikiinkwywest, there's a Financial Issues section of the main Breastcancer.org site that links to several organizations and sources of funds to help with medications and treatments. They may be able to help you.

Judith and the Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...

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Dec 30, 2011 11:02AM GreenMonkey wrote:

Well hello everyone!  So glad I found you.  Not glad they found microcalsifications yesterday during my mammo. 3 of them, don't remember which breast.  I thought they looked cute (adorable might be too strong of a word) and then the Dr. came in with this intense look and my head started to spin.  After a second mammo - with higher resolution (why don't they use that film/camera ALLLL the time), I was told I had two options, a regular biopsy or the stereotactic biopsy.  I'm guessing stereo-tactic is the way to go even though I KNOW I'm going to get all pissy about it. The whole mammo process irritates the crap out of me. They would not do this SQUISHING to mens testicles but its fine to subject a woman's breast to this.  THIS after all the research, etc.  It seems so barbaric to me.  Regardless... I'm here and I'm happy to meet all of you. 

1/20/2012, DCIS, Grade 3, 5 mm, right. LCIS and ADH left & right. ALH right, Stage 0, 0/3 nodes, ER+, BMX 3/5/12, CATSTIR: The other C word that rhymes with Dancer @ greenmonkeytales.com

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Dec 30, 2011 04:59PM amy13 wrote:

TOTALLY must be going around...  I had a mammogram in early Dec, and on 12/15 they wanted me to do another study on my left breast, because it showed microcalcifications.  they did the second one yesterday, and the tech called the radiologist in, and he told me they want to do a wire localization of the left breast to remove the microcalcifications.  on the xray, it looked like a dot, with three lines coming from it, and that's what concerned him.  he said they wanted to make sure those lines weren't traveling to the ducts.  of course, here we are, a Friday before a Monday holiday, so I won't be able to hear from my gynecologist until Tuesday at the soonest. --I actually called the gyn office right after the radiologist told me this, because I was a bit freaked out.  they told me they wanted to wait to get the results of the mammo/radiologist's recommendations before telling me the best course of action.  I suppose perhaps I jumped the gun.  AND, didn't realize until I was with family at Christmas that we DO in fact have hx of breast cancer in family; my great aunt (my Mom's Mom's sister) had a mastectomy years ago... I always marked 'no family history of breast cancer' on all forms... only reason I found out was because I told my Mom about needing the second mammogram. 

SOOOOOO... here I am, in the same boat with many other lovely ladies, trying to NOT worry....

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Dec 30, 2011 06:02PM francksgirl wrote:

I'm in the same boat!! UGH............two groupings in my right breast. Biopsy is on Tuesday!! I'm a wreck!!! My BI RAD SCORE IS A 4...........not great, and not the worst either. Just don't like the odds that my doctor told me!!! 20-40% it's malignant and 60-80% it's B9........UGH.....just want to go home, have a bottle of jack and sleep all weekend!!!  Good luck to all of you ladies out there!!!! We just need to B9!!   8)

Francksgirl

Dx 12/23/2011, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+Surgery 02/03/2012 Lumpectomy (Right); Mastectomy (Both); Lymph Node Removal (Both); Reconstruction: Tissue expander placement, Breast implants (permanent) (Both)Chemotherapy 02/24/2012 Cytoxan, Halaven, TaxotereHormonal Therapy 09/15/2012 TamoxifenSurgery 03/18/2013 Reconstruction: Nipple reconstruction (Both)
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Dec 30, 2011 06:03PM francksgirl wrote:

8) Maybe we all went to the same hospital and the lens is dusty!!!! I wish.....I hope!!

Francksgirl

Dx 12/23/2011, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+Surgery 02/03/2012 Lumpectomy (Right); Mastectomy (Both); Lymph Node Removal (Both); Reconstruction: Tissue expander placement, Breast implants (permanent) (Both)Chemotherapy 02/24/2012 Cytoxan, Halaven, TaxotereHormonal Therapy 09/15/2012 TamoxifenSurgery 03/18/2013 Reconstruction: Nipple reconstruction (Both)
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Dec 30, 2011 06:18PM, edited Dec 30, 2011 06:18PM by marie5890

Amy,

Hello and Welcome 

AFA your great aunt's BC, you can exhale there. When they are asking about family history they are asking about more immediate relationship...Ie your mother, or a sister, *perhaps* a grandmother, but not so much.

No doubt they will make a note of your great aunt, but it's not what they are really wondering about.

Greenmonkey...Hello and welcome!!

Take heart. For all the annoyance mammos are, they are/can be incredibly helpful in detection. We have had many a European or Austrailian sisters here who dont get the kind of screening availablity that we  do, and it's not ususal because of that that their BC is discovered in a more advanced state. Frown 

DO NOT READ ANYTHING INTO THE TECH'S EXPRESSION OR WHAT THE TECH SAYS. Jan '11 Biopsy Dx-ed a PASH tumor (rare, but benign tumor)....All I ask is for peace and serenity to the depths of my soul. Makes the rest of life more live-able.

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Jan 5, 2012 07:04PM GreenMonkey wrote:

Monkey Me back for an update.  I finally have my date for my biopsy -  it will be this coming Monday at 1:00 pm.  I'm told I'll have my results back in 48 hours. I was given the option of having a regular biopsy or the stereotactic biopsy. After research I decided to go with the stereotactic biopsy.  I will post back when I have results (neg or positive).  

Because I am a writer, I find it theraputic to write about my highs and lows.  Today I posted about my situation.  Typically, and perhaps oddly, I find humor in the strangest places.  

 This post is entitled Chaos, and it can be found on my blog, Green Monkey Tales at this link:

http://greenmonkeytales.blogspot.com/2012/01/chaos.html 

I hope to read more from everyone about how you are doing. Best Wishes, Shannon aka Green Monkey 

1/20/2012, DCIS, Grade 3, 5 mm, right. LCIS and ADH left & right. ALH right, Stage 0, 0/3 nodes, ER+, BMX 3/5/12, CATSTIR: The other C word that rhymes with Dancer @ greenmonkeytales.com

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Jan 6, 2012 12:05PM amy13 wrote:

Green Monkey, when you say you were given the option of a 'regular' biopsy or a stereotactic biopsy, what do you mean by 'regular'?  I saw a surgeon yesterday and was given the option of a wire localization or a stereotactic biopsy, and am currently trying to decide. 

--anyone else who has recommendations between the two, I'd be glad to hear them...  I'm not real keen on the idea of being smooshed in a mammogram machine for 20-30 minutes for a stereotactic, but then again, I'm not real thrilled about being put under for a wire localization, either....  the surgeon told me the results would be the same regardless of which procedure I choose....

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