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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Cancer and Breast Ultrasound

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Ultrasound is a painless procedure that uses sound waves to make images of the inside of your body. The sound waves bounce off surfaces in your body, and the "echoes" are recorded and transformed into video or photographs.

It’s often used in addition to mammography to tell whether a lump in a breast is a cyst (a fluid-filled sac) or a solid mass, which might be cancer. Ultrasound can also help pinpoint the position of a tumor. This guides the doctor to the exact place to insert a needle during a biopsy.

Are There Side Effects From Breast Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is safe, and there are no side effects. It doesn’t use radiation like X-rays do.

What Happens During the Breast Ultrasound Test?

You really don’t need to do to anything to prepare for a breast ultrasound.

  • You’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown, so you may consider wearing a two-piece outfit on the day of the test so that you only need to remove your top.
  • You’ll lie on a padded examining table during the test.
  • A small amount of water-soluble gel is applied to the skin over the area to be examined. The gel doesn’t harm your skin or stain your clothes.
  • A probe that looks like a little paddle is gently applied against the skin.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath briefly several times.
  • The test takes about 10 minutes to complete.

After the test, the gel will be wiped off your skin. You’ll doctor will let you know the results and if you need further testing.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 04, 2015
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