A Supplemental Screening Tool
Most breast ultrasounds aren’t a typical routine preventive screening option. Automated breast ultrasounds (ABUS), or whole breast ultrasounds, may be recommended for some people as a supplemental screening.
This radiation-free and painless procedure uses sound wave technology, or sonography, to create images of your breast tissue.
If you meet certain qualifications you may be scheduled for a screening ultrasound in addition to your screening mammogram. Screening ultrasounds shouldn’t take the place of a screening mammogram.
Who Should Get a Screening Breast Ultrasound
Routinely, ultrasounds are used to take a closer look at a suspicious area that was seen on a mammogram. If you have a lump, ultrasounds can reveal whether it’s a fluid-filled cyst or solid mass. They help the radiologist tell if a concern is normal or if you need more testing.
Ultrasounds can also be a helpful additional screening tool for some people with dense breast tissue. Your breasts include fatty, connective and glandular tissue. Having dense breast tissue means you have less fatty tissue and more of the other types.
Your provider can tell you if you have dense breast tissue after your mammogram. People with dense breast tissue are at a slight increased risk of developing breast cancer, and the dense tissue can also hide cancers on a mammogram.
Your provider may recommend annual whole breast screening ultrasounds or ABUS in addition to your screening mammogram if:
- Your breasts have areas of dense tissue.
- You aren’t currently experiencing breast cancer symptoms.
- You’re still completing your annual mammograms.
- You can’t have an MRI.
- You don’t have breast implants.
What Happens During an Ultrasound
You’ll lie on a table in a hospital gown that opens in the front. Your sonographer, or the person performing the ultrasound, will apply a clear gel to the area to be imaged.
A small, handheld device or whole chest plate is placed on your skin to examine the area. The device emits sound waves that bounce back and are turned into 3D images of your breast in real time.
From these images, our experts can see blood flow, the internal structure of your breast and any irregularities. In some cases, you may need additional testing after your ultrasound, such as a breast biopsy.