Mammography Myth #04: Mammograms are painful.

Oct 07, 2019


Mammography Myth #04: Mammograms are painful.

Fact: Everyone’s pain threshold is different, but the compression involved in a mammogram is more often described as temporary discomfort.

How do mammograms work?

A mammogram detects changes in the breast tissue. A mammogram takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. A technician will place your breast between two plates. One plate takes an image of the breast, and the other holds the breast in place. Gently compressing the breast keeps it stable and provides a clearer image of the breast tissue.

The images allow a radiologist to see if there are unusual changes in the breast. If there is any indication that a change could be cancerous, the radiologist will recommend additional tests.

The imaging process can involve some discomfort. However, a person can take steps to reduce it, and any pain usually passes quickly. A mammogram is quick and noninvasive. It requires no recovery time, and it can save lives.

So, do mammograms hurt?

A number of factors affect whether a mammogram hurts, including:

  • the skill of the technician
  • anxiety about the mammogram
  • the structure of the breast

If the machine is not in the right position, this can also cause issues. For example, some people have to contort their backs, due to the height of the machine. This can lead to back or neck pain from muscle strain.

It is important to let the technician know if the position feels uncomfortable, as this can mean that the machine is at the wrong height.

Anyone with fibrocystic breasts — referring to the presence of harmless cysts — is more likely to experience pain during a mammogram.

While a mammogram can be a bit uncomfortable, it’s necessary to ensure that everything can be seen clearly on a mammogram. It could be unpleasant for a few moments, but it’s a small tradeoff for living cancer-free, or catching breast cancer early and treating it successfully. It may also help to know that your breasts may be sensitive if you are about to get or have your period-it is recommended that your annual screening mammogram be scheduled for the week following your period.

Why should you have an annual screening mammogram?

Early detection saves lives. Since 1990, there has been a 30% decrease in breast cancer mortality rates in the U.S., which is due in large part to the early detection of breast cancer through screening mammography.

Suburban Imaging offers both 2-D and Tomo (3-D) screening mammography at three clinic locations (Suburban Imaging – BlaineSuburban Imaging – Burnsville and The Breast Center of Suburban Imaging, which is located in Coon Rapids).  Check with your health insurance plan to verify coverage of 3D mammography prior to scheduling.

To learn more about screening mammography and to find scheduling information, please visit our website here.

Category: Breast Cancer

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