DOVER -- Union Hospital has installed new technology to improve the physician's ability to quickly and accurately diagnose breast cancer.

"The big news for our patients and our community is that local and immediate access to this testing procedure will greatly reduce a terribly anxious period of time to confirm the patient's diagnosis," according to Carey Gardner, director of community relations.

If a woman's mammogram indicated a suspicious lump or mass, the next step may be a biopsy to determine if cancer cells are present.

The stereotactic breast biopsy procedure has largely replaced surgical biopsy as the standard of care to obtain the tissue sample needed to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Gardner says that until now, stereotactic breast biopsy testing was available locally only two days each month when the very specialized equipment was brought to Union Hospital.

"Some women might have to wait for several weeks for the procedure or travel out of the area for the biopsy if they could not endure such a long wait for a diagnosis."

Michael Soehnlen, M.D., chief of the Radiology Department at Union Hospital, says this project is vital to advancing the hospital's quality of care in the Breast Center.

Compared to a surgical breast biopsy, Dr. Soehnlen said the stereotactic incision is not much more than a tiny nick in the skin.

A biopsy needle, guided by x-ray imaging, is inserted and removes a small tissue sample. Unlike surgical biopsy there is little or no scar tissue to distort future mammograms.

Other advantages are less post-procedure pain, a shorter recovery time, and immediate return to work or regular activity.

The cost of stereotactic biopsy is about one-third that of surgical biopsy.

Gardner said Union Hospital has established an excellent record in women's breast health services.

"From being one of the first hospitals in Ohio to acquire digital mammography technology to our diagnostic and treatment programs, Union Hospital's Breast Health Center is focused on the medical and emotional needs of the patient," Gardner adds.

Gardner said the stereotactic breast biopsy procedure will be conducted by Dr. Soehnlen, Dr. Stephen Sabo, and other specially trained radiology physicians at Union Hospital and the technical staff of the UH Breast Center.

The cost of the stereotactic breast biopsy installation is $184,000 which includes the procedure table, X-ray imaging equipment, and biopsy needle guidance hardware, Gardner added.

"Even though resources for new equipment are increasingly difficult to obtain Union Hospital identified this project as a top priority this year because of the obvious and significant benefits for patient care," he said.