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Breast sonography is a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to capture pictures of the breast area. This test is typically performed in addition to, not in place of, a mammogram. Once a lump or abnormality in a breast is discovered by hand or via a mammogram, a breast sonography can give a doctor more information about the findings.
Women are advised to perform frequent at-home breast exams and be examined by a doctor yearly for breast lumps. Staying on top of breast health can be a major factor in preventing, identifying and treating breast cancer. Mammograms are X-rays of the breasts and are one of the most common ways doctors check a woman's breast health. When a medical professional finds something troubling in a mammogram photo, a breast sonography can be used as part of the follow-up process.
Breast lumps can either be solid or filled with fluid. Using breast sonography technology, doctors can determine which kind of lump exists in a patient's breast. Solid breast lumps are more likely to be cancerous, while fluid-filled lumps have a better chance of being a benign cyst. A breast sonography alone is not enough to make a cancer diagnosis. A biopsy will need to be done on the lump for confirmation.
Patients shouldn't have much reason to fear a breast sonography. The test is not painful and usually takes 30 minutes or less to perform. A trained technician will apply gel to the breast area and run a device called a transducer over the breast. It is important for patients to remember that the technician is not allowed to discuss findings. All sonography patients must wait for a doctor to review the results.
Many gynecologists will not require women to get yearly mammograms until they are around age 40. Exceptions may be made for younger women who have a family history of breast cancer or who have had scares with breast lumps in the past. Women with silicone implants may require sonographies even if no lumps are found during a mammogram, because silicone may prevent the mammogram from showing complete results.
The idea of breast cancer can be scary for women. Medical professionals say women should think of sonographies and mammograms as a standard part of their healthcare routine, just like a yearly Pap smear. When a doctor calls for a breast sonography, it is in no way an immediate cancer diagnosis. It is just a tool for staying on top of a woman's health.