Breast Ultrasound and How It Is Used To Fight Against Breast Cancer

Along with medical ultrasound awareness month, October celebrates breast cancer awareness month to bring to light the importance of women’s health, research, and advancements in the field to cure and detect breast cancer.

Did you know that along with a mammogram, breast ultrasound is used to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast? Ultrasound is primarily used to help diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities that may have been found during a physical exam, mammogram, or breast MRI. It also lets your healthcare provider see how well blood is flowing to areas in your breasts. This test is often used when a change has been seen on a mammogram or when a change is felt but does not show up on a mammogram. Ultrasound is a safe and painless alternative for those who cannot be exposed to radiation.

Common Uses of Breast Ultrasound:

Determining the Nature of a Breast Abnormality

Drawing of the anatomy of the female breast

The primary use of breast ultrasound is to help diagnose breast abnormalities, such as a lump, and to characterize potential abnormalities were seen in a mammogram or breast MRI. Ultrasound imaging can help to determine if an abnormality is:

  • solid, which may be a non-cancerous lump of tissue or a cancerous tumor,
  • fluid-filled, such as a benign cyst,
  • or both cystic and solid.

In addition, Doppler ultrasound is used to assess the blood supply in breast lesions which can help determine the cause of the mass.

Supplemental Breast Cancer Screening

Ultrasound Image getting accurate measurements of a tumor on the right breast of a female patient

Mammography is the only screening tool for breast cancer that is confirmed to reduce deaths caused by breast cancer through early detection. However, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. Some breast lesions and abnormalities are not visible or are difficult to interpret on mammograms. Breasts that are considered dense can make cancer harder to detect through typical breast exams. Many studies have shown that ultrasound and MRI can help supplement mammography by detecting breast cancers that may not be visible with mammography. Ultrasound can be offered as a screening tool for women who:

  • Are at high risk for breast cancer and unable to undergo an MRI examination,
  • are pregnant or should not be exposed to x-rays, which are necessary for a mammogram,
  • have increased breast density — when the breasts have a lot of glandular and connective tissue and not much fatty tissue.

Ultrasound-guided Breast Biopsy

When an ultrasound examination reveals a suspicious breast abnormality, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can become an option to learn more about the abnormality. An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy uses sound waves to help locate a lump or abnormality and remove a small tissue sample for examination under a microscope. With the help of ultrasound, this method of biopsy is less invasive than surgical biopsy, leaves little to no scarring, and does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation which can be harmful to some patients.

As ultrasound technology continues to evolve, it is quickly becoming a safe, radiation-free alternative to help detect and diagnose life-threatening diseases, like breast cancer. Sonography is a broad profession containing many sub-disciplines, such as musculoskeletal sonography, breast sonography, echocardiography (adult & pediatric), vascular, neurosonology, abdominal, obstetrics & gynecology, and more.

Check Yourself!

Early detection of breast cancer is critical to raise your rate of survival. Many breast cancer symptoms are not noticeable without a professional screening through your healthcare provider, but some symptoms can be caught early just by being proactive about your breast health. Along with a clinical exam, mammogram, and ultrasound a self-examination is encouraged at least once a month for Adult women and adults assigned female at birth. Johns Hopkins Medical center states,

“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

Self-exams can be performed in the shower, in front of a mirror, and while lying down in bed. If you find a lump during your self-exam, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic — 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous! But you can always contact your doctor or health provider for more information and to ease your mind.

For more information on how to perform self-breast exams on the National Breast Cancer website: https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam

 

Are you surprised ultrasound has so many use cases? Are you interested in pursuing a career in sonography? WCUI is now enrolling for: Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography, Academic Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and Academic Associate of Science in Cardiovascular Sonography programs. Give us a call at (888)315-4993 or email admissions@wcui.edu and connect with us today to learn more!

 

Article sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/breast-ultrasound

https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breastbius

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/breast-ultrasound

According to the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) the need for sonographers with musculoskeletal ultrasound certification has increased in the industry.

  • 90% of surveyed sonographers stated they have noticed an increased demand for musculoskeletal sonography. 
  • 71% of surveyed sonographers reported conducting more than 100 diagnostic medical sonography exams per month. Compared to MRIs, musculoskeletal sonography can be performed quickly and can scan in real-time!

Through a survey conducted by the ARDMS they learned that sonographers have used the RMSKS certification to help them:

  • Assess bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve and soft tissue pathology and tears.
  • Assist with interventional procedures, injections and ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release.
  • Increase their employment opportunities and work in orthopedics, radiology, rheumatology ultrasound, and sports medicine & more! 
  • Provide value and specialized knowledge to their hospitals or clinics, and
  • Secure employment because not many sonographers have obtained the RMSKS credential because the RMSKS program is still very new.

To address the increase in demand, WCUI School of Medical Imaging and Nursing offers courses in musculoskeletal ultrasound as part of the Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree program. The 36-month bachelor program provides a more in-depth journey into vascular, obstetric and gynecologic, abdominal, and musculoskeletal sonography along with all the other protocols for diagnostic medical sonographers.

Interested in learning more? WCUI is currently enrolling for a Spring start on March 30! Call (888)-315-4993 or email admissions@wcui.edu for more information!

For more information on the RMSKS certification visit: https://www.ardms.org/benefits-of-earning-a-musculoskeletal-ultrasound-certification/

Who is Dr. Raafat Baheeg?

Dr. Raafat Baheeg is a man of many talents. Not only is he an amazing instructor at the WCUI Los Angeles campus, he is an orthopedic surgeon, a musician, and a composer with his own home studio to produce worship music. Dr. Raafat prides himself on expanding his horizons beyond medicine and education. He loves music and being creative just as much as he loves teaching his students. Before joining WCUI in 2011, Dr. Raafat practiced medicine in Egypt where he met his wife. In 2005, Dr. Raafat and his family moved to the States. Dr. Raafat’s wife is an architect, and she worked for the California Baptist University, his son is a top salesman for T-Mobile, and now he is pursuing his Bachelor in Theology, and his daughter is currently studying for her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at Hope University.

Why WCUI?

Dr. Raafat was an instructor in many subjects prior to joining the WCUI team. He taught piano and languages, such as Arabic, to a multitude of different types of students. He absolutely loved teaching, but after being away from medicine for 20 years he wanted to return to the medical field. He had a mission to change students’ lives and so he found West Coast Ultrasound Institute.

“Dr. Baheeg is a great professor. He cares about the students’ educational goal. He is really passionate about teaching and cares if students learn the material in his class. He established my love for medicine. I wish he would teach other classes except anatomy and physiology.” – Previous student on RateMyProfessor.com

Teaching Methods

Dr. Raafat prefers an interactive classroom where he asks the students a lot of questions to keep them focused on the topic. In return, he expects them to ask him questions and provide feedback to gauge their learning, as well as, keep them interested. He takes his class very seriously because he wants his students to understand the seriousness of the profession they are studying for.

Dr. Raafat explains that when they enter the workforce they are changing people’s lives. As the doctor’s eyes, the images they collect will help the doctor make a diagnosis. If they do not collect the full picture, then doctors could potentially make the wrong diagnosis, thus affecting the patient’s care.

Dr. Raafat asserts that he wants to build the students to not just be imaging techs but medical professionals.

“Dr. Baheeg is THE BEST PROFESSOR for anatomy and physiology. I took his class last semester. I had little knowledge about human body but his explanations will improve your understanding by 100%. His lectures are fun! And he always uses small stories to explain body functions which are hilarious and easy to understand! Would definitely take him again” – Previous Student on RateMyProfessor.com

Dr. Raafat describes that his goal for his students is to build them a pyramid of knowledge and skills: First he must build them a background of knowledge, then work on their critical thinking to tackle issues, next expand their skills, and finally build their confidence. To do this he sees everything through the students’ eye and tries to connect the topics in class to the students’ lives. His determination to connect with his students shines through the numerous positive reviews left by past and current students.

Favorite Memory of His Students

Dr. Raafat recalls his favorite memory of his students is the appreciation he sees in their eyes when they leave the classroom. To him, changing his students’ lives is the most fulfilling experience of being an instructor. He constantly has students coming back months and years after his course, saying they miss him and they miss his class. His persistence to build a connection with each student year after year exemplifies everything WCUI stands for when it comes to educating their students.

Thank you to Dr. Raafat Baheeg for all you do at West Coast Ultrasound Institute and all our students!