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Ultrasound scan has been playing an increasingly important role in the evaluation of breast cancer. Ultrasound scan is useful in the evaluation of palpable masses that are mammographically occult, of clinically suspected breast lesions in women younger than 25 years, and of many abnormalities seen on mammograms. Some breast imagers believe that ultrasound scanning is the primary modality for the evaluation of palpable masses in women 30 years of age and older and that mammography plays an adjunctive role. Ultrasound scanning is also useful in the guidance of biopsies and therapeutic procedures Ultrasound scanning may be used if you:

  • Have particularly dense breast tissue. A mammogram may not be able to see through the tissue.
  • Palpable lump during clinical breast evaluation.
  • Axillary lymphadenopathy present on mammogram imaging.
  • Women younger than 40 years with the clinical presentation of certain anomalies.
  • Pregnant or lactating women.
  • Suspicious abnormality identified on mammogram imaging.
  • Nipple discharge.

If you have a lump in your breast, an ultrasound will help your doctor determine whether it’s a fluid-filled cyst or a solid tumor. It also allows them to determine the location and size of the lump.
Sometimes a breast ultrasound may be used instead of a mammogram to screen for breast cancer, including:

  • in pregnant people and people under age 25 years, who shouldn’t be exposed to radiation from a mammogram.
  • in people who have dense breast tissue, which reduces the visibility of tumors in mammograms.
  • when a mammography machine isn’t available.

A breast ultrasound may also be used to check for leaks or other problems with breast implants.

How to prepare and what to expect
You don’t need to avoid eating or drinking before a breast ultrasound.
However, you’ll want to be mindful of what you wear:

  • Avoid applying powders, lotions, or cosmetics to your breast before the ultrasound. These products may interfere with the accuracy of the test.