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Bye bye biopsy

Playing hide and go seek, or playing the piano, when 3-year-old Kadin is around, Grandma Roz is always playing something. 

"I am blessed by all my grandchildren, but this one's got me," Roz Sobel told Ivanhoe.

She's needed the distraction. A few months ago, doctors found a lump on Roz's mammogram. It was a scary moment for a woman whose mother, grandmother, sister, cousin, and niece all had breast cancer.

"My family has a horrible history," Roz said.

Typically—women like Roz will need a painful needle biopsy to determine if the lump is cancerous, but she took part in a clinical trial testing a new technology called opto-acoustics.

"The thought is that this will help us determine what's cancer and what's not," Paulette Lebda, MD, Breast Radiologist, The Cleveland Clinic, told Ivanhoe.

An ultrasound with a laser is used to look at the distribution of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood in the lump. It's essentially a blood map for doctors.

"Usually, benign breast masses can have a different blood profile, or blood map, than cancerous masses," Dr. Lebda said.

Studies have shown the technique could reduce the number of biopsies by 40-percent, which was music to Roz's ears.

It turned out her lump was caused by a dog jumping on her, not cancer.

"They knew right then and there that it was from the dog," Roz explained.

With the opto-acoustics technology, there's no radiation, no needle, no pain, and no risk to the patient. The technique is being studied in a clinical trial at 16 centers around the country. It will not replace mammograms, but may decrease the need for invasive biopsies by distinguishing cancerous from noncancerous breast masses through imaging.