Health and Fitness

My First Breast Ultrasound Experience

I have a friend who found out she has a breast mass in her left breast. I recommended my doctor to her so she can have it checked but she was too afraid to do it. I know better than to push someone into doing something they’re not ready for. So I’m letting her take her time.

I understand her. No one told me what happens in a doctor’s office or what goes on during a breast ultrasound. If someone did, it would’ve helped ease the anxiety.

I first found out that I had a breast mass in 2003. I was 20 then. It was removed through surgery but I don’t think I ever went through an ultrasound. I would’ve remembered that experience. My current doctor said the mass should not have been taken out. It was benign after all.

My first ultrasound was in 2008, when I found out that the mass has come back. I don’t know why I never did a self breast exam since that surgery.  Ironic that it took me 5 years to remember and when I found out that I have it again, I immediately set an appointment with a doctor. I knew how it important it was for me to get checked immediately. My grandmother died of breast cancer and my aunt is currently braving through the same disease.

During the checkup, the doctor confirmed that there was indeed a mass and that I need to get a breast ultrasound for her to be able to assess if it was something to be concerned about. I called up UST Hospital’s breast center to set an appointment. They had me answer medical-related stuff before they asked me to go in a room to change into a hospital gown that you put on like an apron.

Not knowing what would happen next really scared me. I was alone coz I didn’t want to bother anyone to come along with me.

The doctor asked me to lie down and remove the ‘apron’ and with something that looks like a big popsicle stick, she put ultrasound gel all-over my left breast. By this time my heart was pounding so loud that I think the radiologist can hear it.

The started a conversation to put me at ease. I didn’t even notice that she already laid the ultrasound thing until I started to feel a little uncomfortable.  She moved the scanner from the outside perimeter to the middle of my breast like she was ironing it. It doesn’t hurt enough to make me teary-eyed, but enough for me to tense up and hold my breath. Overall, it’s tolerable compared to laser hair removal shots.

The whole thing lasted around 30 minutes. I think it’s a little bit longer than an average ultrasound session coz the doctor found 9 cysts, which, to be honest, was quite alarming. To find out there were 8 more was overwhelming.

The largest of the nine was about 2.8 cm big and the tiniest one was about 2mm in diameter.

After the doctor has seen the write up and the images. She said they were all considered “probable benign cysts” and that I can opt to leave them there unless they hurt to a point that it’s no longer bearable. Apparently, sharp pain on the cyst area is one of the indications that it’s probably benign.

I decided to just leave them alone and not undergo another surgery.

The doctor recommended breast ultrasound every 6 months to monitor change in shape, number, and any indication of malignancy.

Anyway, after that first ultrasound, I felt a sigh of relief. It’s one thing to assume it’s probably nothing and another to know it’s actually nothing.

Fast forward to 2012 and I still have them. I have most of them needle aspirated. But they grow back so I’ve decided to leave them be unless there’s some real threat. And based on my most recent ultrasound, they’re all still benign. But I’m turning 30 next year and my doctor said it’s time to get my first mammogram (this early, because I have a family history of breast cancer).

I’m scheduled to do the mammogram this December. Crossfingers that everything turns out ok.

feature image credit: health.net

27 Comment

  1. got it. thanks for taking to get back to me. no worries, even if it's late, it's not asap naman.

  2. Hi Jay Arcy, that's a good question but I unfortunately don't know the answer to that yet. I'll make sure I ask my doctor in my next appointment with her (very soon).

  3. thanks for sharing. I never had a breast ultrasound. am thinking of having one. can we just have it for no reason at all other than to be comforted at the thought that there's nothing wrong with us?

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  5. I'm thinking of doing a history check in my family and asked who suffered from what in the past… I'm scared of ANY medical procedure. Even a normal injection can have me cowering like a cat under the rain.

    But I guess it might be time for me to go for ultrasound scanning… been experiencing some soreness on my left breast during certain times of the month. I think it's mostly likely to benign hormonal breast mass but it's always better to be sure. Thanks for sharing your experience, Rae.

  6. This reminds me, I need to get that second opinion on my nails (melanoma)

    A mammogram is nothing after all you've been through ;-) Fight!

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Rae. I hope it's nothing serious. Your post scared me. I

    never had breast ultrasound but I had my first mammogram last year. It was.. very uncomfortable.

  8. I hope so too. My fiance accompanied me in my recent checkups, I didn't want to have him come with me at first but he insisted :)

  9. Hey hun,
    Your post reminded me of how important is to be aware and have regular check ups. Breast cancer really scares me.. well, any cancer scares me actually. I hope all turns out just fine with your mammogram in December hun. You don't need to go through this alone and I hope someone will be going with you in December. xx

  10. Hi! I got here via the FemaleNetwork forum. I used to have several palpable breast masses (2-5cm) when my menses were crazy irregular, and they were especially painful in the premenstrual period. Now that my menses have become somewhat regular (reduction in stress I suppose), they've disappeared.

    I'm happy to hear you're compliant with your follow-ups! Not a lot of women are, sadly. Sayang because breast cancer is curable in its early stages. I hope your problem continues to be just fibrocystic disease and nothing malignant!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. Breast cancer runs in my family and I'm scared shitless to get checked… Your strength has given me strength.

    http://wonderwomanrises.blogspot.com

  12. I have both simple cysts and fibroadenomas.

    Anyway, thanks so much for that information you put in above. I wouldn't have said it better.

  13. I really hope I have to do it just once every year. I had a feeling it would hurt. But the folks at St. Lukes were offering me a digital mammogram, they said it won't hurt, I'm really hoping it doesn't.

    Kamusta naman si attendant giving the “small boobs” comment. Anyway, in my surgery, I was awake and they only used local anaesthesia. The doctor couldn't find the cyst and he said, ang hirap hanapin, voluminous ang fat. Eerrmmm, I felt awkward. Didn't know how to feel about that.

  14. Hey Kim, I think it's best to go to your OB first. I took a different route though. Since we have a family history of breast cancer (and other types of cancer), I went straight to a breast/ cancer surgeon.

  15. That's exactly what I was thinking, “I just want to get it over with.”

    I know I'm gonna do it anyway, so I might as well do it.

  16. Hi Kim! If you just want a breast examination you can go to any doctor. OB, GP, family medicine, internist, surgeon, even derma. They all know how to do it and can teach you how to do monthly self-exams.

    If however you are experiencing any breast problems like pain, masses, or discharge, and you already have an OB, just consult with her about it. Otherwise you can go to a general surgeon or breast surgeon. Advantage of going straight to a surgeon is they will aspirate the mass straight away if it's indicated.

    Remember to have your breasts checked once a year by a physician, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer. Self-exams have a low detection rate.

  17. I had my first mammogram early this year and I have to warn you, it's quite painful with the plates squeezing a breast :(

    Just grit your teeth, think of happy thoughts and hopefully they won't have to retest like they did with me because my petite girls made it difficult to get an accurate reading (and take note that the attendant scolded me for having small boobs ha! Kapal.)
    Crossing my fingers for you Rae.

  18. I've never had a breast ultrasound before and I don't check my breasts too. Just a question though- what kind of specialist do I need to go to if I want to have my breasts examined? Do I go to my OB? I'm really not sure.

    Anyway, I hope everything turns out okay in your mammogram!

  19. OMG Rae, I really hope everything turns out well. I was holding my breath while reading your story. When I was in college, my friend underwent the same thing. She had a benign mass removed. I also went with her during her ultrasound; it was scary waiting for the results. The thought that it might be cancer terrified us.

    I agree with you when you didn't push your friend. Tests like that needs some preparation mentally and emotionally. When I was 19, I underwent a procedure to check if I had colon cancer. I won't go into details but it was VERY uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to prepare myself that time because I was already in pain everyday and I just want to get it over with. Good thing the results came clear. Whew!

What do you think?

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