How does an ultrasound help find determine what a lump in the breast is?
If you do a breast self-exam or a screening mammogram and find something strange in your breast, your doctor may want to do an ultrasound of the breast tissue. A breast ultrasound is a type of scan that uses sound waves that go deep into the tissue but can't be heard by people. The breast tissue bends these waves, which creates echoes. A computer uses the echoes to make a picture of what's happening inside the breast tissue (no radiation is involved). A mass that is mostly liquid looks different than a mass that is mostly solid.
Results of an Ultrasound: Breast Sonogram
A "sonogram" is the name for the clear picture that the ultrasound makes. Ultrasounds are useful when a lump is big enough to feel, and the pictures can be used to find out more about the problem.
An ultrasound of the breast can show if the lump is a solid mass, a cyst filled with fluid, or a mix of the two. Cysts usually aren't cancerous, but a solid lump could be a cancerous tumor. This method of diagnosis is also used to find out the exact size and location of the lump and to get a better look at the tissue around it. If the lump is found to be cancer, the "clinical" stage of the cancer is determined by how big it is.