More Comfortable Mammograms

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

OCTOBER 25, 2017

Mammograms are uncomfortable and awkward. For too many women, they are also painful. For some women, they are so painful that they are avoided. In spite of the ongoing controversy about the scheduling of mammograms and their value in saving lives, we all concur that their annual use is a very wise idea for those of us who are at high risk or who have had breast cancer.

This is an article from today's Boston Globe about a new mammogram machine, in use at MGH, that allows the woman to control the degree of pressure. The FDA has approved the machine and states that this feature does not diminish the value of the images. I will assume that they tested that as it seems a bit counter-intuitive. Here is the start and a link to read more:

Mammograms are awkward and uncomfortable — and now could be less painful

The experience of getting a mammogram is familiar to millions of women: the awkward positioning, the painful sensation of being squeezed, the anxiety over what the test will reveal.

Breast tissue must be compressed during the test to allow for accurate cancer screening. But it is not comfortable, and for many women it’s so painful — physically and emotionally — that they avoid mammograms altogether.

Massachusetts General Hospital this month became the first US hospital to launch use of a new mammography system designed by Boston-based General Electric Co. that is designed to make the experience more comfortable. The system from GE’s health care division has a hand-held remote that allows patients — not the medical professional administering the test — to control the level of pressure they feel during the exam.

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