Breast ultrasound is the basic preventive examination for detecting breast cancer. Detection of breast changes in the early stages of the disease gives a good prognosis for a cure. Every adult woman should have a breast ultrasound at least once a year. Breast ultrasound can detect tissue changes as small as 0.5 cm in diameter. The examination detects changes such as calcifications, benign tumors, fibroids, and cysts. Also, under the guidance of ultrasound, a mammotome biopsy can be performed – i.e., removal of the lesion with a needle with a diameter of 3 mm. Mammotomy makes it possible to remove the entire tumor – the collected material is then subjected to histopathological examination. Ultrasound examination is non-invasive, safe, and painless. It also does not require any special preparation of the patient for the examination. Ultrasound has no effect on health; the examination can be repeated depending on the needs and recommendations of the oncologist or gynecologist. It is best to go for an ultrasound between the 1st and 10th day of the menstrual cycle.
Symptoms that suggest that an ultrasound should be performed as soon as possible:
- disturbing discharge from the nipple
- breast pain, breast swelling, breast tenderness
- a sudden change in the shape of the breast or the appearance of breast asymmetry
- changes in the structure of the skin on the breasts, e.g. the appearance of a concavity
- in self-examination you have detected disturbing nodules or other changes of irregular shape
- You had your last breast ultrasound a year ago
- previous precancerous lesions
How often should you do a breast ultrasound?
According to the Gynecological Society, the first breast ultrasound examination should be performed between the ages of 20 and 30.
Women over 30 should perform breast ultrasound at least once every 2 years, preferably once a year.
Breast ultrasound should be performed more frequently if the patient is genetically at risk of developing breast cancer. The same applies to women who have been diagnosed with genetic mutations that predispose them to the disease or who have previously been diagnosed with benign lesions, such as fibroadenomas, in an ultrasound examination. In the latter case, regular examinations are aimed at controlling the growth of tumors and deciding whether to remove the tumor by surgery. Although fibroadenomas rarely become malignant, they should be monitored by an oncologist. Then more frequent examinations are recommended – every 6 months.