How accurate is ultrasound in evaluating palpable breast masses?

  • MA Gonzaga


Introduction: Breast masses have become common in women. Such masses pose a potential threat to women especially in the era of increased cases of breast cancer worldwide. Breast carcinoma ranks first among the malignant tumors affecting females in many parts of the world with the rate of breast cancer being 1 in 8 in USA. There are currently more than 600 000 cancer deaths annually in Africa. By 2020, 70% of the 15 million new annual cancer cases will be in developing countries. Ultrasound is a relatively inexpensive and readily accessible imaging modality that can be utilized in the evaluation of clinically palpable breast masses. The purpose of this study was to find out the accuracy of ultrasound in the diagnosis of palpable breast masses. Methods: Eighty palpable breast masses were evaluated at ultrasound and information about the characteristic features of the masses was recorded. An impression about the diagnosis was made and results were correlated with histology findings. Results: The overall sensitivity of ultrasound in detecting breast lumps was 92.5%. The sensitivity and specificity of ultrasound for detecting breast carcinoma was 57.1% and 62.8% respectively with a positive predictive value of 68.1%, a negative predictive value of 99.5%, a positive likelihood ratio of 39 and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.07. Ultrasound reliably differentiated cystic from solid breast masses. Conclusion: Ultrasound is significant in differentiating cystic from solid breast masses. Ultrasound is also important in detecting suspicious breast masses and should therefore be used in the evaluation of symptomatic breast masses.

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eISSN: 1937-8688