• Glenn Wilson

    Excessive breast compression during mammography may not improve image quality and cause unnecessary pain.

    Dr. Greger: False-positive results have been described as “the most frequent harm” associated with mammogram screening, but actually it may be pain. “There is a wide variation both in the reported frequency of pain and in…degree of pain felt by women” during mammograms. But, there may be little doubt that “the majority of women feel some degree of pain during” the procedure. Why? Isn’t it just a type of X-ray?

    For those unfamiliar, the breast is sandwiched between two plates, and kind of pancaked down. Instructions are typically like, “Slowly apply compression until the breast feels taut,” with a force not exceeding 20 kilograms. That’s 44 pounds! That’s like the weight of a cinder block—I mean, no wonder some women experience pain!

    Studies that have attempted to quantify it are all over the place, with the incidence of pain ranging anywhere from 1% to 93%, depending on how they defined it. The discomfort is enough to keep a proportion of women from not coming back. The typical line you hear is that “Although the compression can [be] uncomfortable and even painful for some women, it only lasts…a few seconds”—a sentiment to which one woman replied, “You tell [the] doctor to come on over [here]…he’s got stuff that can be mashed too, you know…”

    Continue at NutritionFacts: Do Mammograms Hurt?

    Maybe you prefer to read the transcript instead of watching this video? To see the full transcript or links to cited sources go to the link above, then scroll below the video and click on View Transcript or Sources Cited. This is part six of a 14 part series. Other videos in this series are listed in the Doctor's Note below the video.

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