Early diagnosis can enhance the chances of successful treatment and save lives to a great extent, especially when it comes to breast cancer. During the breast cancer examination, your healthcare professional will check the breasts for any signs of cancer like changes or lump formation in the tissues. However, physical examination alone cannot confirm the presence of cancer.
Here’s how Ultrasound comes into the picture. It is one of the imaging tests recommended by the doctor to detect the presence of cancer in breast cells. The screening procedure serves as an excellent tool to facilitate multi-modality management and make data-driven informed decisions at any stage of breast cancer from initiating treatment to assessing the response to treatment.
Ultrasound – An Overview
Ultrasound is an imaging procedure that utilizes high-frequency sources to provide pictures of the internal structures and anatomy of the organs. It is often used in detecting breast cancer, to evaluate and monitor any symptoms. The process is performed to collect valuable data on the structure of the breast including its size, shape, density, type and the amount of tissue present. Some of the abnormalities and early symptoms of breast cancer that can be identified by the ultrasound are,
- Breast lump formation such as cysts
- Clear or blood discharge from nipples
- Presence of asymmetric breast tissue
- Evaluation of masses viewed through MRI scan or mammography
In addition, ultrasound also plays a key role in biopsy by guiding the healthcare professionals to continue the process or to document changes in the patients after therapy. Experts suggest women under 30 undergo the breast ultrasound test when the results of other imaging tests like mammograms are inconclusive due to dense breast tissues.
How to know if you have dense breasts?
It is not possible to confirm whether you have dense breasts or not unless you get a mammogram. Radiologist will perform the procedure and will identify the dense breast tissues by obtaining the sonogram. In addition, studies have proved that a combination of imaging tests – mammography and ultrasounds detect cancer more efficiently in women with dense breasts. Nevertheless, Women breast tissues are comprised of two types – glandular and connective tissues, which makes it difficult to detect the malignant lump formation.
The role of ultrasound in breast cancer detection
An ultrasound for breast cancer is a safe and pain-free procedure. An ultrasound will be suggested if mammography detects any suspiciousness in your breast tissues. It will help to determine whether it is a fluid-filled cyst or solid masses of potential cancer cells. If it’s the cyst, an ultrasound will assist the doctor in using the needle aspiration to remove the accumulated fluid for further diagnosis to confirm any infection.
On the other hand, if it’s a mass of cancerous cells, then an ultrasound will be implemented in the biopsy procedure. Also, ultrasound plays a key role in determining cancer through palpable lumps closest to your breast’s surface. Other imaging tests are ineffective as breast ultrasounds confirm this type of cancer.
Now, can ultrasound aid in detecting breast cancer? The answer is yes. However, the results could be inconclusive in certain cases, which makes space to perform other imaging tests. For instance, your doctor might request to undergo a biopsy for a thorough and intricate diagnosis.
What is the procedure of ultrasound?
First, you must lie supine on the table and raise your hands above your head. An acoustic or lubricating gel will be applied to the breast regions. During an ultrasound examination, your technician will hold a wand-like device known as a transducer. They will slide it over your breasts through the process.
The transducer will send sound waves that will create an echo over the breast tissues. The echo will be transmitted back to the computer, creating a clear and detailed image of the breast tissues. The technician will analyze these images to notice any changes inside the tissues. Upon completing the procedure, the gel will be wiped off, and the report will be sent to the healthcare professional within two days.
Benefits of ultrasound in breast cancer
Breast ultrasound is an essential equipment that facilitates non-invasive yet effective imaging tests. In a nutshell, ultrasound for breast cancer has many benefits that enable patients and healthcare professionals to prefer this procedure over other imaging tests. Some of them are,
A fast procedure
Ultrasound is recommended, especially for younger women with a high risk of developing the condition due to genetics, lifestyle, or age. Experts usually recommend annual screening for women between 24 and 75. The entire breast ultrasound procedure takes only 10-15 minutes to complete, and it can be performed without the administration of anesthesia.
Breast ultrasound is also known to procure accurate diagnosis results compared with other technologies due to its ability to penetrate deeper into the breast tissues. Also, it ensures to offer pictures of the breast’s internal structure, with superior resolution quality. The ultrasound results help you detect the presence of any cysts and the growth of tumor cells. These kinds of abnormalities are not possible to determine using mammograms alone. They will appear as dark areas in the scanned pictures.
Monitor every change in breast tissue
Ultrasound, as an effective imaging tool, tends to detect and monitor every tiny change in your breast tissues. The sound waves also differentiate cysts and solid mass while giving information related to the risk of developing malignancy. It is also used to observe changes in lesions and detect tiny tumor cells, which are challenging to view on a mammogram.
Another significant benefit of ultrasound is its non-invasive nature. Conservative imaging tests like X-rays can be uncomfortable for patients and can expose them to a little dose of ration. While ultrasound for breast cancer uses sound waves to produce images, making it a safe screening test for women.
Limitation of ultrasound in detecting breast cancer
The significant role of ultrasound in breast cancer is undeniable. However, this screening test alone cannot serve the best since it tends to miss the early signs of cancer, like microcalcification. Therefore, it is often suggested as an additional test with a mammogram, especially in younger women.
The effectiveness of breast ultrasound depends on the experience and skills of the technician. Any error might lead the healthcare professional to overlook the presence of lumps and cause misinterpretations. Therefore ensure to consult a reliable and trustworthy professional to perform the imaging test.
Every woman should get their annual screening test to ensure that nothing has developed or changed which could indicate cancer. Ultrasound plays a vital role in detecting, diagnosing, and monitoring any abnormalities in the breast health of a woman, despite her age and risk factors. Early detection of breast cancer will allow you to opt for timely and appropriate treatment to achieve an improved prognosis.
At CDN care, we incorporate state-of-the-art equipment to establish a positive shift in the relationship between patients, healthcare professionals, and the system. Our well-experienced and highly qualified team strives hard to provide personalized and advanced care to every individual to ensure their well-being and satisfaction.