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Thursday, October 15, 2009 Theresa in Colorado, Community Member, asks

Q: Titanium marker clip from biopsy still remains after lumpectomy

I had a partial left breast mastectomy one month ago. Fortunately and blessed the cancer was removed and the margins were clean. However I learned last week during pre-radiation/post surgical mamography that the titanium marker clip from the stereotactic biopsy back in Aug is still present in the cavity where the cancer was removed. I am concerned that having radiation to that site w/the marker clip still inside could be risky to my health. I often experience an itchyness and occasional pain in my breast but contribute it to post surgical healing.  Has anyone been in a similar situation? Should I insist on having it removed before radiation begins?

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Answers (8)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/ 7/09 3:51pm

Hi - Statistically speaking, a very tiny percentage of women do experience some allergic reaction to titanium. This could come in the form of pain or itchiness. If you're stressed that you'll be in that very small group, you might ask to have the clip removed. But there's no evidence, at least that I've found, that radiation applied to titanium in your breast causes or exacerbates an allergic reaction. Since you seem nervous about it, though - I'd ask your surgeon about taking the clip out, OK? Good luck - PJH

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butterfly9773, Community Member
11/ 7/09 1:54pm

I have had severe pain since having a breast biopsy in which a titanium clip was inserted to mark the spot where y lump had been removed from. I have been suffering with severe pain ever since, and even had to be hospitalized because of the pain. I have been told by the doctor who ordered the procedure as well by many others that they have 'never" heard of the clips causing anyone problems. I have found countless stories though of women who are having similar experiences and are being told the same thing.

 

My procedure was supposed to cause little pain & some tendernous & I was told I would be back to my normal actvitites within 24 hours. It has been over a week, I am on bed-rest and am heavily medicated in order to deal with the pain & have been told that I must just be more "sensitive" than others. How can so many women experience the same problems, and yet the medical community just continues to dismiss the idea that the clips can be causing pain.

 

I have found through research that men have also had issue with clips that had been used after having a vasectomy, and in the particular case that I was reading the gentleman had it removed and then his pain went away.

 

Has anyone had their clip removed due to pain, or has anyone had a doctor who is willing to acknowledge that the body can reject the clip or be bothered by it?

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you!

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In pain, too, Community Member
11/29/09 9:48pm

I had a breast biopsy last October (2008) which, thankfully, came back negative.  I did have a marker inserted at the site of the biopsy and had an uneventful recovery. 

 

About two months ago (September 2009) I began noticing pain in the area of my breast where the marker is located.  It feels much like a bruise but has not gone away with time.  I have not contacted my physician as I just had my yearly mammogram and reported these pains to the radiology staff at the time of my x-ray and thought I'd wait to see the results.  They have since come back negative and the pain is still there and growing worse.

 

I plan to call my gynocologist and ask for a follow up.  There is definately something wrong.  Why it is happening a year after my biopsy and the insertion of the marker, I have no clue, but I will not let this rest until the pain is gone.

 

Good luck to you and please let us know what happens, as I will you...

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butterfly9773, Community Member
11/30/09 9:36am

I am sorry to hear that you have developed this pain. I hope for your sake it does not continue to get worse.

 

I ended up suffering for an entire month before finding any help. I was unable to get out of bed due to the pain. I was unable to perform my daily activities, work, school etc. If I did not take the pain medication I was perscribed I would literally wail out in pain and not even be able to stand up, even with the medication I would still be in severe pain to the point that I would vomit, I could only keep Pedialite down many days and was confused and groggy from the medicine. Beyond the pain though, I just began to fell ill. My overall well being was suffering.

 

In four weeks I saw 11 doctors. My Primary Care Physician was convinced, as well as I, that the marker was what was causing me the pain. The problem was that some of the doctor's I saw wouldn't even consider that it could be the clip. Flat out denied that it could even be possible. The doctor that inserted the clip was one of them, so she was of no help in my recovery. Eventually I was able to find multiple doctors who said that it could be the clip; sighting the days when no one believed there were latex allergies etc. After having a couple of different breast specialist that felt it could be the clip, or at the very least, that it shouldn't be ruled out, I fould a breast surgeon that was willing to remove it. I had the clip removed and felt better that very day. I had a little discomfort where the incision had been made to remove it, but I had no pain in my breast at all. Also, I had been medicated on narcotics the prior weeks just to control the pain and I have had to take since was a few tylenol the day after the surgery. It has been 1 week since the surgery and I am dong well and returning to work tomorrow.

 

The doctor who removed the clip said that she had only had one other patient in 18 years who had a reaction to the clip. However, the nurse I worked with during my wire locailzation said that she had two  patients. My point is that it does happen, and I think all too often it is dismissed. Also, do not believe that if it is the clip you would definitely have a rash on the outside of your skin. I didn't have a rash, and the dr. & the nurse said that none of their other cases had a skin rash either.

 

Unfortunately, I think I had to suffer as long as I did because the doctors will want to go through the process of ruling everything else out first; which on one hand I can understand-- but when you are the one with the pain you don't want to waste time with doctors who are just going to dismiss the possibility of it being he clip.

 

I wish you luck. You know your own body and if you believe it is the clip than I would go to as many doctors as it takes to find someone to help you. For me, when the doctors didn't have any reasons they could find for the pain I would say, why are we dismissing the clip if you don't have anything else to go on? Just remember that pain is a product of something else, an infection, reaction etc etc-- if you have pain there is a reason; and you just have to keep going till they find out what it is.

 

I have read some heatbreaking stories on here about women who have been suffering for 5 months etc wo believe it is the clip causing the pain but their doctors have told them it's not possible....just know you are not alone if that happens to you at first.

 

Good luck with everything. I will be thinking about you. Please keep me up to date on how you are doing.

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rychae, Community Member
2/ 1/11 2:21am

kindly tell us the name & office address of your doctor who took out your clip. Thank you in advance. 

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butterfly9773, Community Member
6/11/11 6:02pm
Hi The dr was dr Donna Vechionne; at Southwest general health center in middlebrow hrs Ohio. Any breast surgeon should be able to remove it for you I would think. Best of luck in finding some relief. Reply
Peggy, Community Member
4/24/12 12:48am

I had a biopsey almost 5 mo ago..had pain and a infection for over a month. I still get sharp stinging pain and always have a soreness that is like a constant aching in that breast. Nobody believes me that it might be the markers..all was well..no cancer..thank God..but this daily soreness keeps going on every day.  Finall got a Dr who is going to do an ultra sound..hope they find out what is causing this pain 

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
4/24/12 5:55am
Peggy, some pain after a biopsy is not unusual, but after five months, it should be mostly gone. Every place where I have previous surgery on my body still gives me pain from time to time, even years later, and I have no markers, so be open minded about the cause of your pain. I'm glad you found a doctor who is willing to investigate. It might be the marker, but it could be a scar tissue problem, or something else. Be persistent until you are satisfied that all is OK. Reply
Momsky, Community Member
4/14/10 11:05pm

Although we can all be thankful for the medical science that makes detecting benign/cancerous lumps, etc. it is extremely stressful. I had biopsies done about a month ago and was totally stressed out and in pain off and on during the procedure, despiter having been able to use relaxation techniques in the past to get through painful situations. While the staff was very supportive they didn't seem to know what to do or think about the level of pain I was feeling. In the past, I have had a moderately high level of pain tolerance and also healthy awareness and intuition about what was going on in my body. When the titanium marker was inserted, I experienced sharp pain when the tissue was taken for biopsy and two of the biopsies were worse than the other two "clips" or whatever the right terminology is. In the past week or so I have begun to have pain in my breast at the site of the marker? or one of the needle biopsy areas. It feels like a deep bruise at times; other times it feels like a pinching sensation in my breast, localized to one of the biopsied areas. I will be discussing this with my doctor during my next visit.of course. I read an article recently about the high level of stress associated with repeat test, waiting for results, etc. I know from being a counselor/therapist that stress levels affect pain levels and pain levels then add stress, but the pain from the site, post reports coming back benign is still there, so stress isn't the only factor obviously here. I feel for everyone going through this. If I can get the word out there about the need for additional information and research in this area, I will. There has got to be a better way to help women with the psychological effects of these procedures. Ironically, I had no pain in my breasts prior to the biopsies/marker being put in. My pain is not as severe as what you are reporting. I hope things go well for you and that you get the answers you need about the clip removal. Best wishes to you in resolving the situation.

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Caroline from CA, Community Member
9/19/10 11:43pm

In July 2010, I had a biospy on my left breast and have had a strange feeling that something was left in the area.  I would feel a sensation of pain shooting up from the core of where the biospy was done.  I talked to a few ladies and one said maybe the surgeon left a marker in your breast.  "Marker" what is that?'  I immediately called the hospital to speak with the surgeon in September 2010 and told her my concerns about the pain and if there was a marker inside that I want it removed.  I was assured that if I am having pain, it is the cancer growing.  The marker was placed so that when I decide to have the lump removed the surgeon would know when it is located.. She also said that if the lump reduced in size, the marker stay in as an indicator of  it original location.  I was also assure that the marker was made of stainless steel and it will not turn or cause me any  health problems.  What I failed to mentioned was the on going itching body, by body itch including my hair.  I also experienced feeling dizzy while sitting.

 

I never gave much thought to my body since the biopsy, but here is what I have been experiencing:

1.  pain

2. itchey scalp and skin (I never had this problem before HONEST)

3. body temperaure feel hot (when i take my temperature it is normal, no it is not hot flash, I was able to manage the hot flashes by changing my diet, but since the biopsy I feel like by body has changed for the worse.)

4) headaches (before the biopsy, when ever I got a headache which was rare, I always knew why, because I some type of stress and was able to manage.  But now I do not know why the pain comes on so frequently.

 I was also feeling pressured about having my breast remove before the surgeon when on vacation. I had a second opinion at a well known hospital and the surgeon suggested not to take drastic measures of total removal but try reducing the lump and the first doctor said it measured 6 an and when the surgeon ran test the lump was smaller.  I really want to have this metal removed as soon as possible because i feel my health is at risk due to the symptoms I have never had until after the  biospy.  Thank you.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
9/20/10 4:16am

Caroline, I'm unclear - did the biopsy indicate cancer, but you chose not to have the lump removed? If so, I'd suggest you have the lump rmeoved, marker and all, ASAP. If not, then it was irresponsible of the surgeon to tell you that pain indicated "the cancer is growing" - when there was no sign of cancer after the biopsy.

 

Whether or not the marker is causing all of these health issues, you won't know unless you have it removed. So please tell the surgeon you feel you're having an unusual reaction, and you'd like the marker removed (and why not just have the lump removed at the same time?). If you leave the lump where it is, and it changes/grows (and I assume you're keeping a close eye on any breast changes), you can go through the entire diagnostic process again, with a new marker if necessary. Best of luck - PJH

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jmp, Community Member
12/ 5/10 5:38pm

I had a needle biopsy because of suspicious calcifications in my right breast. When I had my needle biopsy I almost came off of the table because of the pain. It has been almost a month and I am still having pain in my breast. I am just wondering since I felt the clip left in my breast if the doctor did something wrong. I wish there was some information regarding this.

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IN PAIN, Community Member
6/11/11 3:29pm

I am having the EXACT same problem.  Have had 2 breast biopsies (core and excisional over the past 6 weeks), and developed a hard  painful lump after each one.  I am going in this Wed (6/15/11) to have the 2 surgical stainless steel markers removed (they're not titanium) since I can't think of anything else that could be causing this horrible, debilitating breast pain.  I tested positive to nickel and cobalt this week, 2 products I've learned are in the surgical steel.  Would love to know if removing these will solve my pain, since my doctor remains skeptical, having never seen this before.  

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
6/11/11 8:45pm

There's no telling beforehand if removing the markers will ease your pain; it's simply not 100% predictable. However, if you see a correlation between the markers and the pain, then it would seem reasonable to assume that the getting them out of your breast would help - let's hope so, anyway. Good luck - PJH

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Tristesse, Community Member
6/19/12 6:37pm

I had surgery ten years ago for a miniscule tumour of the lowest grade. The surgeon left a large number of clips inside me. I am in constant pain from nerve damage, as well as soreness and pain from the huge knot of scar tissue in my breast. Sometimes, it becomes so itchy, I think I will go out of my mind. I asked about having them taken out, but they are embedded so tightly into the huge knot of hart scar tissue you, that they say they couldnt take them out without disfiguring me further.

I wish I'd known ten years ago what I know now about cancer and its treatment--I would never have allowed an oncologist near me. There is a fear that the surgery has caused the cancer to spread. This time, I am going the alternative route and have made it clear to my family practitioner that I will have nothing to do with the Cancer Establishment.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
6/19/12 9:36pm

Sounds like some clumsy surgery, unfortunately. But please don't let one botched surgery turn you away from all the truly talented and caring doctors and other medical professionals in the cancer community. If your cancer's metastasized, I hope you reconsider going the alternative route. I'm all in favor of alternate therapies - so long as they're done in concert with medically proven treatments. Quality of life is important, but so is life itself; I hope you do everything in your power to live as long as possible, so long as you can enjoy reasonable quality of life. Best of luck to you - PJH

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
6/20/12 12:26pm

Tristesse, I'm sorry that your surgery left you with so much pain.  This is not typical of breast surgery, so try not judge all surgeons and cancer surgeries by what happened to you ten years ago.  Of course, any surgery leaves scar tissue, and some people have long-term soreness, but it sounds like your results are much worse than the norm.  Whether that is because your surgeon was not competent or because the location of the tumor was in a place that was near nerves and hard to reach, I wouldn't want to guess.

Research has shown that even very tiny tumors can shed cancer cells into the bloodstream, so it is impossible to say whether the surgery would have anything to do with any spread of the cancer if you have been diagnosed with metastases at this point.

Alternative treatments are attractive to many people, especially if they had a bad experience with traditional medicine.  In the ten years since your last cancer treatment, doctors have so many improved treatments, and many cancer centers work with complementary treatments like acupuncture, nutritional experts, and so forth.   As you explore possible treatments, ask plenty of questions about what the research shows about any treatments you try.  What are the statistics about how well they work?  What are the risks and benefits of each?  I wish you well as you find the best treatment plan for you.

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Tonya Jones, Community Member
8/15/12 6:54pm

Wow guys! I thought I was the only one having that same problem.

 

I wasn't even told about the marker until I was in the biopsy room having my procedure done!

 

I was not happy when I realized that I had no choice in the matter.

 

I asked to have it removed but the doctor said they have to mark it for future purposes,

 

The lump did show stage 0 non-invasive carsinomia. However, when they did the lumpectomy all of the cancer was gone. :)

 

But they still placed another marker in my breast after removing the lump.

 

It hurts constantly, but I am only 2-months out of surgery from the lumpectomty, so I am hopping the pain goes away.

 

I do, however, experience the burning deep inside and the sharp pains that you all mentioned.

 

I have a follow up with my surgeon next week and I plan to address it to her.

 

The original marker from the biopsy was painful as well.

 

 

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PEARLINE, Community Member
8/23/13 10:23pm

ID IDNT KNOW SO MANY WOMEN HAD THE SAME PROBLEM AS ME,,THIS CLIP IN MY BREAST IS VERY ITCHY AND PAINFUL AND I CAN EVEN FEEL IT,,I AM GOING TO TALK TO MY DOCTOR ABOUT THIS,,THIS IS NOT NORMAL,,,IT GOOD TO HAVE PEOPLE TO DISCUSS THIS WITH

 

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
8/24/13 6:16am

Pearline, we're very glad you found us. And yes, it's good to know you're not alone. If the clip is giving you discomfort, definitely speak with your doctor about it. Surgeons are often reluctant to go in and remove the clip, both because it means another surgery and all its risks, and because it marks a potential cancer spot. But if a sufficient amount of time has passed since your biopsy, and you're still experiencing this discomfort, then it's time to do something about it. Best of luck to you - PJH

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Sue in cali, Community Member
12/21/12 12:45pm

I just had my biopsy when the doctor explained to me that the titanium clip may irritate me since it's so close to nipple,I decided to refuse the clip and the radioligist told me i didn't have to get it ! So I didn't get one.I have high blood presure so I don't need any irritants.They also told me 80 % of biopsy's are nothing so don't offer it any negative energy!Good Luck to you all I hope this helps.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
12/21/12 9:32pm

Thanks for your feedback here, Sue - I'm glad you didn't need the clip, and that the surgeon actually gave you a choice. And s/he's right - about 85% of biopsies are negative, so here's hoping the odds are with you! Take care - PJH

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Vanessa, Community Member
3/21/13 2:14pm

I had a biopsy of my left breast.  A titanium marker was placed in the breast.  Since then, I often have a pinching pain in that breast.  The pain is worse after a mammogram but doctor says no harm is being done.

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
3/21/13 7:18pm

It seems to me that if you often have pain, harm is being done to you emotionally. It may be the potential harm of taking out the marker is greater than any physical harm being done by leaving the marker in place.  But if the pain is frequent or severe enough to interfere with your concentration or enjoyment of life, then another conversation with your doctor seems warranted.

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Chilibear1023, Community Member
10/ 2/13 10:02pm
I had a biopsy four years ago. Since then I have had severe shooting. Pain I never endured before. Recently this pain is so severe it is waking me up in the middle of the night and keeping me awake. I did go back to the place who did the biopsy and the doctor minimize my pain and told me it would get better. Nope it is worse and now it us effecting my sleep. I work a high demand job and I really need my sleep. Reply
Chilibear1023, Community Member
10/ 2/13 10:03pm
I had a biopsy four years ago. Since then I have had severe shooting. Pain I never endured before. Recently this pain is so severe it is waking me up in the middle of the night and keeping me awake. I did go back to the place who did the biopsy and the doctor minimize my pain and told me it would get better. Nope it is worse and now it us effecting my sleep. I work a high demand job and I really need my sleep. Reply
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
10/ 4/13 7:02am

Pain that is keeping you awake should not be minimized by your doctor.  This new increase in pain may have nothing to do with your biopsy, or it may be related to scar tissue from the biopsy.  Either way you need to be evaluated by a doctor who will listen to you.  I would suggest seeing a new doctor; or if you have a good primary care doctor, go to him or her first and then get a referral to a new breast specialist if necessary.

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Joan of Arc, Community Member
10/25/13 11:05pm
I went to the Mayo Clinic in 2007 and 2008 for a serious illness that they NEVER diagnosed...Lyme disease. While there, they ran me through the gauntlet of testing. I don't believe in mammograms, squashing your breasts and radiating them never made much sense to me, but I was desperate to know what was causing me to be so ill. They did a biopsy, and everything came back normal. So why the need for a marker at all? I believe we are secretly being chipped, especially when I found that doctor after doctor would NOT remove this marker. I set up appt after appt, only to get a phone call back, "Sorry, we don't remove markers". They'll try to convince you that IT CAN'T BE THE MARKER THAT'S CAUSING YOUR PAIN, OR YOUR ITCHING, etc etc. I'm from the tri-state area NY/NJ/Pa. I finally found a doctor in Ga. who was willing to help me after much research. There were two of them, real human beings that would email me back and forth. One of them actually wrote a book on the fact that mammograms are being way overdone. I was already to schedule the appt and head to Ga., but first I had one more appt in Nj by a recommendation of another dr. HALLELUJAH! This dr was listening, he believed every word I was saying and he agreed to do the surgery. My surgery was scheduled early in the am. I was put under and the marker removed. I went home hours later and I needed pain killers for two days. I have a slight scar that looks better by the week, but I am finally free from this VERY UNNECESSARY PROCEDURE!!! I no longer have itching, throbbing, or pain, or just the thought of a foreign body in my breast. If a splinter can be SO IRRITATING, so can a titanium or stainless steel clip? Our healthcare system is not there for your health, it's all about the almighty dollar! $$$!!! Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
10/26/13 6:16am

I'm glad you were finally able to get some relief from your pain. Good luck with your healing - I hope it continues to go well. PJH

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By Theresa in Colorado, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/02/13, First Published: 10/15/09