Talk to twenty women who have had more than one mammogram in their life, and you will get several different answers to the question: “Is a mammogram painful?”
Uncomfortable and scary may be a common answer. A few might say painful, but it only lasted a few seconds. Others may say it was no big deal.
Anxiety about the test, your personal pain threshold, and the technician all play a huge part in a woman’s perspective relative to their mammogram
Let’s discover a few tips to reduce any discomfort during a mammogram, and review why a mammogram should be an essential part of a woman’s health plan.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women, so early diagnosis is crucial. A mammogram takes about 20 minutes from start to finish to:
The latest recommendations say that women 40-44 have the option of having the exam. From 45-54 it should be done annually, and women 55-74 every two years. Any woman with a high risk, like family history, should begin at 25.
There is no reason to be frightened of the exam. The value of early detection far outweighs a few minutes of angst.
A mammogram uses low dose x-rays to take a picture of breast tissue. During the exam each breast is placed between two plates. They help keep the breast in place, and the compression gives the technician a clear image. Normally two pictures are taken of each breast at different angles, although more may be prescribed.
The technician plays a huge part in your comfort vs discomfort, both physically and emotionally. You are in control, so communicate with the tech if you are experiencing any real pain or are anxious. A sensitive technician will walk you through the process regardless if it is your very first mammogram or your tenth.
Larger breasts can be more difficult to get into position and this may cause some discomfort.
In addition, breasts can be tender if the exam is performed prior to a woman’s period, and cysts can cause some pain during compression.
Anxiety can play a role in how much discomfort a woman experiences during a mammogram. The first step is to relax as much as possible. Some other tips include:
The American Cancer Society says a mammogram is the most important tool for detecting breast cancer, and we agree. Contact our Breast Care Center at (304) 797-6433 to set up your appointment today!