Do Biopsy's spread cancer?

Posted By
11/4/2010 10:08am
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Replies: 4

I came across a couple of articles on the Web that maintain that biopsys spread cancer.

This may be total quackery, but the argument goes that the body builds walls around concentrations of cancer cells to contain them, but that these walls become breached, and the cancer cells escape, when a biopsy is performed.

I am scheduled for a SLN  in a day or two , and these articles have given me pause for thought.  Any comments?

Anonymous - (11/4/2010 - 10:41am)

I vote quackery.

Leaving cancer IN the body spreads cancer.

Janner - (11/4/2010 - 10:42am)

Keep searching.  There are many more articles and studies that say the opposite.  They also used to say "air" caused cancer cells to spread.  Another myth debunked.  There are people who die from cancer who don't have those biopsies - and their cells still managed to spread.

You can certainly choose not to have the SNB.  It hasn't proven to have any real clinical significance.  It's mainly for staging.  You could watch and monitor instead.  But not having the wide excision to get better margins could be a big mistake.  Melanoma cells like to travel and you want to remove everything at the source.  You've obviously already had the initial biopsy and the SNB isn't really a biopsy, it's removing one or more lymph nodes.  They don't cut into the lymph nodes, and any melanoma cells would most likely be encapsulated in the node itself.

You can find a lot of both good and bad information on the web.  Consider the source!  You need to evaluate everything.  Are there studies or clinical trials (hard science) to back it up?  What is the background of the author?  If you are really having doubts, call your doctors and ask their opinions.  Ask for 2nd or 3rd opinions.  In the end, you have to do what makes YOU the most comfortable!

Best wishes,


washoegal - (11/4/2010 - 12:47pm)

There's new studies going on that are questioning the need for SNB at certain staging.  That maybe waiting and watching is an option.  I was asked if I wanted to join such a study.  I said "NO", glad I did as there was Mel in my in Sentinal Nodes.  At the point I got it is was microscopic: the ultrasound would NOT have found it, it would have been larger and maybe have spread. 


By and large I think the biopsy spreading cancer is quackery.  And maybe they are referring to a needle biopsy, which I can see some logic in making an arguement against.


Stage 3

Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.

Springbok - (11/6/2010 - 7:19am)

Thanks to all of you who responded. It confirmed my own view that the idea of biopsys spreading cancer was quackery, but I just wanted to check that there wasn't a large vein of thought supporting the idea.

By the way, I had my SNB yesterday, and it was largely a non-event. The radiologist found only one sentinel node, and the operation lasted all of 23 minutes. My main discomfort was waking up from the anaesthetic with a headache. I am hopeful that the wound healing will continue so promisingly.  Now the anxious waiting for the result

I did talk to the surgeon at some length about where we go from here, if the pathology is pOS. He spoke about a general disection of the nodes as usual practice, but that there was also a large trial ongoing to determine whether these disections actually improve one's prognosis.