Medical breakthrough

Benign breast masses can be treated without surgery

Benign breast masses can be safely and efficiently removed—without surgery—using a vacuum-assisted system, according to preliminary results of a study by a Tufts radiologist.

Dr. Priscilla Slanetz, assistant professor of radiology at the medical school, presented her findings at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society in New Orleans in May.

The study found that breast masses as large as three centimeters could be removed with just a small incision. “The patients had various reasons for wanting to remove the benign masses,” said Slanetz, director of breast imaging at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, a medical school teaching affiliate. “Some had a family history of breast cancer and were uncomfortable with any mass in their breast, while others wanted the mass removed because it was enlarging.”

Unlike surgical options, the vacuum-assisted system does not require anesthesia and takes between 20 and 40 minutes. None of the patients experienced discomfort or pain during the procedure, and a small number had moderate pain after the procedure, requiring an over-the-counter pain medication.