Breast Ultrasound Explained
A breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to look inside your breast to detect cancers, cysts, or masses. An ultrasound technician uses a sound-emitting probe to conduct the test. The sound waves travel through the breast, and then they are converted into images on a screen. The ultrasound exam can demonstrate whether a lump is a solid or a liquid filled mass such as a cyst, leading to different treatments. Consistent with studies that show having a breast ultrasound with an annual mammogram can find more small cancers than a mammogram alone, a high percentage of the cancers PINK finds are found with ultrasound.
Elastography is a non-invasive technology projecting ultrasound waves into your breast to characterize cysts vs. other masses in the tissue. Cysts are composed of fluid and do not require the same treatment as other masses. If the mass is solid, and potentially cancer, it will appear stiff compared to surrounding tissue.
When to Get a Breast Ultrasound
Women with dense breast tissue or scattered breast density benefit from breast ultrasound examinations. Dense tissue decreases the sensitivity of mammography, making it difficult for the radiologist to find cancers that are “hidden” behind dense breast tissue. Breast density is not based on the way that your breast feels, but how much connective tissue appears in comparison to the amount of fatty tissue. Connective or dense tissue can appear as a lump that may not be visible on a mammogram.