QUESTION: My mother and two maternal aunts had breast cancer. I had a benign lumpectomy four years ago. Now they tell me after a mammogram and ultrasound I have a 3-centimeter lump in my breast. The doctors said it looks like a benign cyst. How accurate are the ultrasounds in determining what exactly the mass is? I think I would feel more comfortable with a second opinion but the doctor said that is a waste of time. Your thoughts?
ANSWER: Mammogram is quite good at identifying a smooth-edged mass that is likely to be a cyst. And ultrasound is very good at diagnosing a simple cyst with great accuracy. Most doctors will feel comfortable with such an ultrasound interpretation. BUT, if the ultrasound appearance is not so simple, you might want to have more assurance. Your doctors, or perhaps a second opinion from another physician, may evaluate you further by removing the fluid from the "cyst," then repeating a study later on to make sure that what was there is now gone. You need peace of mind. If you don't have it, then I think it's worth a second opinion.
—Marisa Weiss, M.D.