Lingle will get results of biopsy next week


POSTED: Friday, March 06, 2009

Gov. Linda Lingle was in good spirits and working from home after undergoing a biopsy of tissue in her right breast to test for cancer, her office said.

;[Preview]    Lingle Biopsy

Governor Lingle undergoes cancer biopsy.



Results from the biopsy are expected next week, at which time Lingle will speak publicly about her experience, said Lenny Klompus, the governor's senior adviser for communications.

She was unavailable for comment yesterday.

“;The governor is always very optimistic and positive,”; Klompus told reporters yesterday in a conference call. “;She went in (yesterday) morning very early with an upbeat attitude.

“;She left the hospital feeling good that she had gone through this.”;

Lingle underwent the “;needle localization”; biopsy procedure yesterday at the Queen's Medical Center. It came four months after a routine mammogram in which doctors observed an abnormality that required further testing.

“;The doctor indicated after the mammogram that this would be an appropriate time,”; Klompus said.

This is the second time the 55-year-old governor has had tissue in her right breast examined for cancer.

A mammogram in April 2002 showed an abnormality, which led to a follow-up mammogram and needle biopsy in July 2002 at Maui Memorial Hospital. Those results were negative but showed atypical cells.

Doctors recommended in August 2002 that a second biopsy be performed. That was done at Kapiolani Medical Center in November that year and also showed negative results. Lingle was sworn in for her first term as governor the following month.

Klompus said Lingle has no family history of cancer.

The biopsy procedure at Queen's began at 9:30 a.m. and Lingle was released two hours later, Klompus said. The procedure was performed under a “;light”; anesthetic and lasted about 20 minutes.




Who should get a mammogram?

        Answer: Dr. Virginia Pressler, Hawaii Pacific Health executive and former breast cancer surgeon, said annual screening mammograms are recommended for women of average risk at 40 and older.

However, physicians could recommend earlier mammograms for women with family or personal history of cancer.


The American Cancer Society recommends magnetic resonance imaging screening in addition to mammography for women with a family history of breast cancer or other factors presenting a 20 to 25 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer, Pressler noted.




Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona was alerted to the governor's progress before and after the procedure, but no formal transfer of power occurred, Klompus said.

Lingle is expected back at work Monday.

In the Legislature, state Sen. Rosalyn Baker, a breast cancer survivor, praised the governor for diligently getting checked and having a yearly mammogram.

“;The key for breast cancer is early detection, and then the cure rates are phenomenal,”; said Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena). “;It is probably less scary a prospect than it was at one time, but still, if your doctor tells you you have or might have cancer, it is enough to be pretty scary.

“;Our thoughts and prayers are with the governor, and we want to make sure that she is supported and there are lots of people concerned about her.”;

State Sen. Josh Green, an emergency room physician, said early detection is key.

“;She will be a good role model for women in Hawaii because she is conscientious about her health, and she is going to be a spokeswoman on good health for women,”; said Green (D, Milolii-Waimea). “;The only thing people shouldn't do is put off prevention and testing. It sounds like she is being a smart health consumer.”;

Dr. Virginia Pressler, Hawaii Pacific Health executive and former breast cancer surgeon, said Lingle “;has always been a proponent for screening.”;

“;The national trend is a decrease in mammography, which is very unfortunate because we do know early detection saves lives, and mammography continues to be the best screening diagnostic tool for women of average risk,”; she said.

With regular screening and detection of early stage cancer found on a mammogram, women have a better than 96 percent chance of long-term survival with effective treatment, she said.

If radiologists and surgeons cannot rule out cancer for something suspicious-looking in a mammogram, a biopsy is recommended to find out whether it is benign or cancerous.

A needle biopsy might be done to extract a small amount of tissue for analysis, or the tumor might be removed surgically.

“;Most of the time if they have a biopsy, it's not going to turn out to be cancer,”; Pressler said, “;and if they get regular screening mammography as recommended and there is cancer, the prognosis is going to be good to excellent.”;



Star-Bulletin reporters Helen Altonn and Richard Borreca contributed to this report.