6 Reasons Why an Ultrasound on Your Breasts Can Keep You Healthy : What is the most deadly cancer for women?
Skin cancer is the most common type, but breast cancer is the biggest killer. In the U.S., about 1 in 8 women will face this horrendous disease.
But there is hope.
The rate of deaths due to breast cancer has been steadily decreasing since 1989. Many attribute this accomplishment to advancements in treatment techniques and the prevalence of early detection methods such as mammograms or performing an ultrasound on your breasts.
Let’s explore the benefits of having an ultrasound done and how it can help to keep you or your loved ones healthy and strong.
What Is an Ultrasound on Your Breasts?
Mammograms have become quite popular as a form of early detection for breast cancer. However, mammogram sensitivity is about 87%. This means that in about 13% of cases, the mammogram misses cancer.
It is also possible for a mammogram to register a false positive. The risk of a false positive goes up the more times a woman goes in to have a mammogram. Doctors typically recommend more testing for a woman who has received a positive result. One common follow-up test is a breast ultrasound.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to penetrate the tissue and create a picture of what’s happening in the tissue. It can also help the healthcare provider tell how well blood is flowing in the breast tissue or if there are blockages.
An ultrasound may also be used to help the provider see while doing a needle biopsy, examining lymph nodes, or removing fluid from a cyst.
What about having a mammogram vs ultrasound? If an ultrasound is a follow-up test, does that mean it is more accurate than a mammogram? Not necessarily. Both tests can register both false negatives and false positives depending on different factors.
Here we’ll explore the reasons why an ultrasound would be a good idea.
A Mammogram or Physical Exam Found a Problem
A mammogram or physical exam may show a mass, but it’s not clear whether the lump is a fluid-filled cyst or solid tumor. An ultrasound can give the doctor a clearer picture of the problem.
It is easier to see certain kinds of problems in an ultrasound. But there are also common early signs of breast cancer than ultrasound can easily miss. This is why it is common as a follow-up to a mammogram rather than a stand-alone screening test.
You Have Dense Breasts
In some women with dense breasts, it is difficult to see well with a mammogram. On top of that, having dense breasts is a major risk factor for developing breast cancer.
Dense breasts are rated on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being least dense and 4 being most dense. Some states require doctors to talk with women about their density rating after having a mammogram. Depending on the density and other risk factors, supplemental testing may be advised.
You Are Pregnant
Mammograms involve radiation. While the low levels of radiation used in the test are not necessarily harmful to you, they can be to a developing baby. If you need to have a breast exam while you are pregnant, an ultrasound is a wiser choice as it poses no risk to your baby.
It is also usually recommended to opt for an ultrasound if you are still breastfeeding when testing is necessary.
You Have Breast Implants
If you have breast implants it is often recommended to have an ultrasound on your breasts rather than a mammogram. This is because the silicone or saline implant can impede the doctor’s view of the breast tissue.
There is also a (very low) risk that the mammogram procedure can rupture the implant.
At the very least, you should always let the healthcare provider know that you have implants before beginning any test or procedure on your breasts.
You Are Young
Mammograms are best at detecting breast cancer in women over age 40. This is when doctors typically begin recommending regular screening to their patients. The risk of developing breast cancer is much lower for younger women anyway.
In most cases, doctors don’t think that the benefits of mammograms in young women, particularly under 25, merit the risk of exposing them to radiation.
However, if you possess one of the three main risk factors regular screening beginning at age 30 may be recommended. These factors are:
– having dense breasts
– having a first-degree relative with breast cancer
– being a breast cancer survivor
To avoid radiation exposure, having a breast ultrasound can be a good alternative. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out what would be best in your case.
Examining Other Concerns
Breast cancer detection isn’t the only thing that doctors use breast ultrasounds for. Doctors may request an ultrasound on your breasts for the following reasons:
– to examine mastitis (painful inflammation in the breast tissue)
– to examine skin changes like discoloration
– to monitor breast implants
– to monitor benign lumps
– to assess strange discharge from the nipple
In short, a breast ultrasound is an effective tool that your doctor can use to support your health in a variety of ways.
Keep on Keeping’ On!
Breast cancer is a serious concern that every woman should be thinking about as they get older. Early detection is essential for effective treatment of the disease Ordering an ultrasound on your breasts is one tool in your doctor’s arsenal for making that happen.
You want to be alive and kicking for many years to come. Breast cancer is not a battle that you want to fight. But you need to take advantage of all the tools available to protect your most precious possession — your health.
To check out more fantastic health and fitness tips, check out more articles right here on our blog!
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