If you are a woman aged 40 or over (give or take a few years, depending on your physician's advice), then you should be getting a mammogram at least every two years. If you have a family history of breast cancer, then your physician may even recommend that you obtain them yearly. However, if you had your first mammogram and found the traditional procedure uncomfortable, then you may be dreading your next mammogram or have even skipped it altogether. Before you plan to skip another of these essential breast cancer screenings, read on to find out how the medical community is responding to the needs of women like you and creating new options to help make mammograms more comfortable.
Digital tomosynthesis is the technical term for what is often called a 3D breast cancer screening. This procedure is fully FDA approved, and it allows women like you to find a more comfortable breast cancer screening option. While your breasts still must be placed between two plates before this procedure is performed, they don't have to be compressed by the plates as much. Once your breasts are placed gently between the plates, several x-rays of your breasts are automatically taken at many angles. These X-rays are then put together digitally to form a 3D image of your breast that your physician will study to locate any unusual growths or tumors.
Best of all, you don't have to sacrifice good breast cancer detection for comfort when opting for this cancer screening option because many medical professionals believe that it may be even more effective at locating early cancer growths than traditional mammography.
New Techniques with Traditional Mammogram Machines
While digital tomosynthesis is a good option to reduce mammogram discomfort, there have also been many advances made in improving comfort using the traditional mammography machines in just slightly different ways. One new option is a set of plush pads that are placed under and over each breast to provide a more comfortable experience during breast compression. The pads are specially designed to ensure that they don't interfere with the x-rays and block the rays. When breasts are compressed, a little padding can go a long way to increase comfort compared to breasts compressed between two hard plates.
Another technique doctors are experimenting with involves having women compress their own breasts with their hands, and they can then control the pressure and ease off when it becomes uncomfortable. In experiments, this small tweak in how a traditional mammogram is performed has not shown to reduce the results of locating growths or tumors.
Finally, some physicians are just realizing that if a patient experiences so much discomfort during a mammogram that they skip them, then simply lessening pressure placed on them during a mammogram is a good option to make those who fear those two plates come in more often for their mammograms. While the usual goal in a patient who can tolerate it is to thin the breast out as thin as possible by applying a lot of pressure to create a thin plane that shows lumps and bumps more clearly, the disadvantages of this extreme pressure begin to outweigh the benefits if it results in a woman simply not getting mammograms due to discomfort.
If you have been skipping mammograms due to discomfort that you simply cannot tolerate, realize that there are many new mammogram techniques that can help you have your important breast cancer screenings without this extreme discomfort or even any at all. The most important thing for you to do is to speak up and let your OBGYN know why you haven't been getting the mammograms you need. He or she can then work with you to find the best mammogram option for you that you find more comfortable.
For more information, contact Women's Care Inc or a similar organization.