Statistics reveal that nearly 16% of women in India in the age bracket of 40-60 live with the risk of developing breast cancer. A delay in detecting this cancer only adds to the risk of it progressing further. That is why women are recommended to get regular breast screening so that in the event of a cancerous growth showing up, treatment can begin as soon as possible. And one such test is sonomammography.
What is sonomammography?
This is a kind of ultrasound test meant for examining the interiors of the breasts. Even though the name might be scary, it is absolutely non-invasive and painless.
What should you expect during this breast cancer detection test?
When you go in for a sonomammography, you will first be taken to the ultrasound room where you will be asked to take your clothes off waist up. Then you will have to lie down on the examining table. The radiologist will then apply a gel to your breasts and armpits and then with a high-frequency probe will look for signs of any unusual mass or lump by running it all over in the area.
The probe emits high-frequency sound waves that are transmitted into your breast tissues by the gel. And a transducer picks up the waves that bounce back from the tissues. If there is a discrepancy it is registered and that might indicate an unnatural growth.
When does a doctor recommend sonomammography?
Some circumstances necessitate this test such as-
- Many women in your family have been diagnosed with breast cancer
- A past history of breast cancer when this test can act as a preventive measure
- The X-Ray mammography came up with a focal abnormality
- If the breast tissues are too dense for an accurate X-Ray mammography reading
- Your breasts feel unusually tender and painful
- Self-Examination and a doctor’s examination found palpable changes in the consistency of the breasts
- Presence of lump/s in one or both breasts
- Discharge from the nipples
How are the results analysed?
Radiologists use a scale to categorize the results of the test. This is a number system that ranks your result from 1-6. This scale is called the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System or BI-RADS. These categories help your doctor analyse the severity and extent of cancer. Here are the categories and what each signifies-
- Category 0: This result means there was ambivalence, there may or may not be a lump or tumour and you will be recommended a fresh test, maybe another mammogram
- Category 1: This is a negative result and means all clear, there is no indication of any unusual growth, distortions or calcification in either of your breasts, nothing dangerous has been revealed
- Category 2: This is another negative result, though the radiologist did not find traces of cancer, there may be something in your breast tissues that is benign or non-cancerous
- Category 3: An abnormal growth has been detected but there are high chances (98%) that it is not dangerous. Also, there is little possibility that it will develop into cancer in the future but, just to be sure, you will have to undergo a follow-up test like a mammogram within 6 months.
- Category 4: The test found something suspicious in the breast tissues that may or may not be cancerous. You will be recommended for a biopsy. There are further subcategories too to cover the range of suspicion levels:
4A– The findings have very little possibility of being cancerous
4B– The growth in your breasts have an intermediate chance of being malignant
4C– There is a moderate possibility of the tumour being cancerous
- Category 5: The findings seem to be cancerous and there is a very strong possibility of the growth being cancer and this is when a biopsy will be recommended strongly for further affirmation
- Category 6: This result is actually a confirmation of other tests like a mammogram that came back with a positive result (meaning, the growth is cancerous)
Breast cancer can be a frightening disease. And that is exactly why you need to opt for a sonomammography so that you get the right treatment at the right time.