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Hereditary Cancer Info > Risk Management > Breast Cancer Screening

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Breast Cancer Screening

Learn about the steps that people at high risk for cancer can take to manage their risk and protect their health.


Breast ultrasound (also called sonogram) is an imaging method using sound waves to look at the internal structure of breasts. Ultrasound is particularly sensitive at distinguishing fluid-filled cysts from solid masses. Therefore, in women of average risk, ultrasound is not used as a screening tool for breast cancer, but is used as a diagnostic tool to get a better view of abnormalities found through examination or mammogram. Studies have looked at ultrasound as a screening tool for breast cancer in high-risk women. One study compared mammograms, MRI and ultrasound for screening in women with BRCA mutations. In this study, ultrasound found only 33% of the cancers found in the study compared with 77% found by MRI. Research to further determine the benefits of ultrasound in high-risk women are ongoing. Currently there are no NCCN recommendations for breast screening using ultrasound.

Updated 11/18/2016

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