Do Mammograms Should Be Painful?

Extreme breast compression throughout mammography might not enhance picture high quality and might trigger pointless ache. 

False-positive outcomes have been described as “probably the most frequent hurt” related with mammogram screening, but it surely truly would be the ache. “There’s a broad variation each within the reported frequency of ache and in diploma of ache felt by ladies. There is no such thing as a doubt that almost all of girls really feel a point of ache throughout mammography.” Why? Isn’t it only a kind of x-ray?

For these unfamiliar, I present some pictures simulating a mammogram at 0:32 in my video Do Mammograms Harm?. The breast is sandwiched between two plates and pancaked down. Typical directions are “‘slowly apply compression manually till the breast feels taut’ and ‘the pressure of the compression on the x-ray machine shouldn’t exceed…20 kg’”—that’s 44 kilos. That’s in regards to the weight of a cinder block urgent down on the breast. No marvel some ladies expertise ache. 

“Research that try quantitative measurement of how a lot, if any, ache is felt by ladies present process mammography” are all over, with the incidence of ache ranging wherever from 1 to 93 %, relying on how ache was outlined. The discomfort is sufficient to maintain a proportion of girls from going again. And what’s the standard line you hear? “Though the compression can be uncomfortable and even painful for some ladies, it solely lasts for a couple of seconds and is required to supply image.” This can be a sentiment to which one girl replied, “You inform physician to return on over right here…he’s received stuff that may be mashed too, you realize…” 

Mammogram compression can trigger bruising and has led to the rupture of breast implants, cysts, and blood vessels. Girls with dense breasts are sometimes suggested to take painkillers or tranquilizers “to endure the process extra comfortably.” But, ache is there for a purpose. It’s making an attempt to warn us about potential tissue injury. And, there’s a theoretical concern that tissue irritation may get up dormant tumors. That’s sheer hypothesis at this level, however we should always nonetheless attempt to make mammograms much less painful. 

The rationale they apply a lot stress is “to scale back breast thickness, and by that lower the radiation dose and enhancing picture high quality.” When it was put to the take a look at and truly measured, although, one examine discovered the radiation dose elevated at increased compression forces. One other examine discovered that a couple of quarter of girls didn’t expertise a distinction within the thickness of their breasts when compression was eased again a bit, which “implies that extra compression was utilized than essential. This is a vital level since as soon as minimal thickness is achieved additional compression solely leads to extra ache with no profit to picture high quality.” 

The underside line is that “ache in mammography is a matter to be taken critically…Recognising this within the tone and content material of affected person data and advising on methods to cope with it will present larger respect for sufferers than blanket reassurance…” The rationale ladies aren’t extra up in arms could also be that “the vast majority of ladies really feel compelled (by concern or responsibility) to conform,” however that simply helps the medical institution push the ache subject to the margins.

There’s a lot confusion in relation to mammograms, mixed with the corrupting industrial pursuits of a billion-dollar trade. As with all essential well being determination, everybody ought to be absolutely knowledgeable of the dangers and advantages, and make up their very own thoughts about their very own our bodies. That is the sixth in my 14-part sequence on mammograms. For the others, see:


  • Probably the most frequent hurt related to mammogram screening has been recognized as false-positive outcomes, however it might truly be the ache attributable to the process itself.
  • In a mammogram, the breast is compressed between two plates and flattened. The compressive pressure of the x-ray machine is to not exceed 20 kg, which is 44 kilos, in regards to the weight of a cinder block.
  • Mammogram compression may cause bruising and rupture of breast implants, cysts, and blood vessels.
  • A lot stress is purportedly utilized to scale back the thickness of the breast and “lower the radiation dose and improv[e] picture high quality.” Nonetheless, researchers discovered a better dose of radiation at increased compression forces, in addition to no distinction within the thickness of girls’s breasts when compression was decreased, implying that extra compression was utilized than wanted.
  • And, extreme breast compression throughout mammography might not enhance picture high quality in any respect.

For extra on breast most cancers, see my movies Oxidized Ldl cholesterol 27HC Could Clarify Three Breast Most cancers MysteriesEggs and Breast Most cancers and Flashback Friday: Can Flax Seeds Assist Stop Breast Most cancers?

I used to be capable of cowl colon most cancers screening in only one video. In case you missed it, see Ought to We All Get Colonoscopies Beginning at Age 50?.

Additionally on the subject of medical screenings, take a look at Flashback Friday: Price Getting an Annual Well being Test-Up and Bodily Examination?Is It Price Getting Annual Well being Test-Ups? and Is It Price Getting an Annual Bodily Examination?

In well being,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: In case you haven’t but, you may subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my stay displays:

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