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Ought to Mammograms be Painful? No—Ease Discomfort This Manner

Getting a mammogram is rarely going to really feel like a soothing spa therapy. However ought to mammograms be painful? No. Fortuitously, there are a number of methods to make the take a look at much less bodily and emotionally uncomfortable.

Regardless of how nervous and even anxious it’s possible you’ll really feel about getting a mammogram, the screening is crucial for the early detection of breast most cancers, says radiologist Dana Bonaminio, MD, who focuses on breast imaging and image-guided procedures. “One in eight girls shall be identified with breast most cancers in her lifetime. Routine exams can cut back the mortality price of breast most cancers by 40 p.c1, and might detect the illness earlier than it’s giant sufficient to really feel or trigger signs,” explains Dr. Bonaminio.

“Routine exams can cut back the mortality price of breast most cancers by 40 p.c.” —Dana Bonaminio, MD

She says that early detection of breast most cancers not solely improves survival charges, however it will possibly additionally make therapy simpler and cheaper. Annual mammograms are the easiest way to remain on prime of tumor development in order that they don’t go undetected and advance into later phases, making therapy extra invasive.

Specialists In This Article

  • Dana Bonaminio, MD, radiologist specializing in breast imaging and image-guided procedures

To maintain us all from shying away from the examination, right here she shares the mammogram data everybody with breasts ought to know, in addition to her greatest ideas that may assist make mammograms much less painful—each bodily and mentally.

What do you have to anticipate from a mammogram?

A part of the mammogram nervousness that many individuals expertise has to do with merely not understanding what to anticipate. So Dr. Bonaminio walked us by the steps of a typical mammogram examination.

  1. If you get to the examination room, a mammography technologist will information you into place on the machine to make sure that it captures the most effective photos doable.
  2. Your breasts shall be uncovered one after the other to take two photos with the mammography machine. One picture shall be of the highest and backside of the breast and the second back and forth.
  3. In case you are getting a 3D mammography examination, the machine will transfer in an arc over your breasts, and it’s possible you’ll be requested to carry your breath throughout this a part of the examination.

“You’ll probably bear compression about 4 instances at a number of completely different positions and angles,” provides Dr. Bonaminio. “You might really feel some discomfort throughout this, however the examination shouldn’t be painful.”

Dr. Bonaminio says that whereas a mammogram could appear intimidating, particularly in case you have by no means had one earlier than, the entire course of could be very short-lived. “Mammograms are fast—a typical screening examination lasts about 20 minutes, with precise breast compression lasting about 10 to fifteen seconds for every picture,” says Dr. Bonaminio.

After your mammogram, a radiologist will overview your photos and be in contact with outcomes inside a couple of days, both by cellphone or mail.

“Getting known as again for extra views is pretty widespread, particularly after your first or baseline mammogram,” says Dr. Bonaminio. “Your radiologist can also ship you a report about your breast density. In case you uncover that you’ve got dense breasts, make sure you ask for a 3D mammogram or tomosynthesis, which permits for higher most cancers detection in dense tissue than a 2D mammogram.”

Ought to mammograms be painful?

Whereas discomfort throughout a mammogram will range from affected person to affected person, Dr. Bonaminio says that some girls might discover the compression and breast paddles used for a mammogram to be uncomfortable.

“Conventional compression paddles have been designed to put flat and weren’t inherently versatile, that means that they didn’t comply with the pure form of the breasts,” explains Dr. Bonaminio. “Moreover, these gadgets don’t all the time provide a uniform compression throughout the breast, which can result in ache and pinching.”

Fortuitously, mammogram gear has superior considerably—and these developments have made the examination snug for most girls. “Lots of right this moment’s methods characteristic curved compression paddles fabricated from acrylic that contour to the breast to assist cut back pinching,” says Dr. Bonaminio. “In actual fact, these curved breast paddles have been proven to enhance consolation in 93 p.c of sufferers who beforehand reported reasonable to extreme discomfort utilizing customary mammography compression know-how.”

She provides that some sufferers might really feel discomfort through the mammogram when the technologist strikes you thru completely different positions and angles. A few of these actions might not really feel pure, however Dr. Bonaminio says the assorted positions are essential to seize the most effective photos of your breasts through the examination.

“Don’t hesitate to inform your mammography technologist if one thing feels uncomfortable throughout an examination,” says Dr. Bonaminio. “They can regulate your place and the machine’s compression to enhance your expertise.”

8 methods to make mammograms extra snug

One key to having a optimistic mammogram examination expertise is setting your self up for fulfillment. Listed here are Dr. Bonaminio’s greatest ideas:

  1. Put on a two-piece outfit (quite than a gown or jumpsuit) since you’ll have to take away your prime and bra for the examination.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask your technologist any questions you’ve throughout your examination. The mammogram tech will help clarify the entire steps of the process and stroll you thru what’s going to occur subsequent.
  3. Schedule your mammogram one to 2 weeks after your interval as a result of the breasts are typically most tender the week earlier than and through menstruation.
  4. Take an over-the-counter ache drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen an hour earlier than your mammogram to assist cut back discomfort.
  5. Ask your technologist to make use of a curved breast compression paddle (if accessible), which may lower down on the pinching and discomfort.
  6. Ask for a breast cushion. The pad can lower down on compression ache as a result of it will likely be positioned between your breasts and the underside plate of the machine.
  7. Inform your technologist if you happen to’re experiencing discomfort. They can regulate compression ranges and assist place you in a approach that’s extra snug.
  8. Contemplate scheduling your mammogram examination across the similar time as a pal’s so that you just each have a built-in assist system and will help maintain one another accountable.

What to do if you happen to’re anxious about getting a mammogram

Whereas these at common danger will start annual mammograms at age 40, everybody with breasts ought to begin speaking to their healthcare supplier about screening by age 25, suggests Dr. Bonaminio. “Some sufferers could also be thought of high-risk as a result of a household historical past of breast most cancers, dense breast tissue, or different components,” she says. The vital factor is to not let nerves hold you from making the appointment.

“Attempt to view your mammogram as a daily well being checkup, like a dental cleansing or annual bodily. The examination is a vital instrument for bettering your well being in the long term,” says Dr. Bonaminio. “You can even create an inventory of inquiries to ask your healthcare skilled or mammography technologist to remove among the unknowns in regards to the examination.”

Merely put, early screening saves lives. “Annual screening mammography stays our greatest instrument within the combat in opposition to breast most cancers,” says Dr. Bonaminio. “Being your individual advocate and taking an energetic function in your breast well being is empowering!”

Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, sturdy research to again up the knowledge we share. You’ll be able to belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Monticicciolo, Debra L. et al “Breast Most cancers Screening Suggestions Inclusive of All Girls at Common Threat: Replace from the ACR and Society of Breast Imaging.” Journal of the American School of Radiology, vol. 18, no. 9, 2021,
  2. Friedewald, Sarah M et al. “Breast most cancers screening utilizing tomosynthesis together with digital mammography.” JAMA vol. 311,24 (2014): 2499-507. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.6095


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