Breast Cancer Can Be Detected Through Ultrasound Technology
In the United States, the death rates of those with breast cancer are higher than any other cancer besides lung cancer. In 2009, an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women, and approximately 40,170 women were expected to die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. But breast cancer does not only affect women; although rare, breast cancer can affect men as well. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 2,000 men in the United States learn they have breast cancer each year.
Women can significantly improve their chances of surviving breast cancer by undergoing screening exams, such as mammograms, biopsies, MRIs, and sonograms. These types of screenings help to doctors find cancer before their patients begin to experience symptoms. Regular screenings improve breast cancer survival rates, as cancers found during these exams are more likely to still be small and less likely to have spread to other areas of the body.
Mammograms are generally the most effective screening technique currently available. They are used for routine screening because they can detect early signs of cancer, such as microcalcification that cannot be felt. But when it comes to masses that can be felt, sonograms can provide an advantage. A sonogram is an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to exam areas of the body that may need to be looked at more closely. Ultrasound technology helps in the detection of breast cancer because it allows physicians to determine whether or not a mass is a solid tumor or fluid-filled cysts.
Sonograms are conducted by an ultrasound technician who will begin the procedure by covering the area with lubricating jelly, which improves conduction of the sound waves. The technician will then use a hand-held device, known as a transducer, to direct the sound waves through the skin and toward certain areas of breast tissues in question. The sound waves are then reflected back from the tissues and a two-dimensional computer image of the breast is created from the patterns formed by the sound waves. This type of screening can help detect breast cancer by providing a more detailed picture of suspicious masses that are hard to evaluate in a mammogram. As a diagnostic procedure, it can even be used in needle biopsies to accurately remove tissue or fluid in order to further examine using a microscope.