A new study published in Radiology found that younger women are more likely to experience fear and anxiety as a result of percutaneous breast biopsy. “Percutaneous Breast Biopsy: Effect on Short-term Quality of Life” was authored by Shannon Swan, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston and Janie M. Lee, MD, MSc, former MGH staff radiologist at and now an associate professor of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

In a percutaneous biopsy, the physician uses a needle to take a small sample of material for analysis. More than 500,000 American women have the procedure each year. According to Lee, “If people have a less than positive experience during biopsy, then they might be less likely to come back for screening the next time they are due.”

The women were evaluated using the Testing Morbidities Index (TMI), a tool that uses 7 criteria to evaluate short-term quality of life. TMI indicators include pain/discomfort, fear/anxiety, and physical/mental functioning both before and after the procedure.

For the study, 188 women ranging from 22 to 80 years old were interviewed between 2 and 4 days following their procedures and asked to rate each item on a scale of 1 to 5. Their responses were adjusted to generate an individual score on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 indicating no adverse effects.   

The subjects had a mean TMI score of 82, but the researchers found that average TMI decreased an average of 3 points for each decade drop in age. Women under 40 scored a mean TMI of 76.4.

“The prospect of life-threatening disease can produce a lot of anxiety in anyone,” Lee said. “Younger women typically have less experience with the health care system in general, and it may be their first time going through a diagnostic testing experience.”

The study may indicate a need for better pre-counseling to prepare younger women for the impact of a percutaneous biopsy procedure. For more information, visit Radiology