Mammograms remain one of the best methods to detecting breast cancers, giving women the opportunity to start treatment early if cancer is detected. In countries with early access to quality screening and treatment, breast cancer survival rates are now greater than 80%.
The organization Mammography Saves Lives reports since 1990, mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the United States by 40%. Mammograms usually take around 20 minutes. During a traditional mammogram, a woman's breast is placed between two plates. One plate holds the breast in place, while the other takes images, and the breasts must be compressed to get clear pictures of breast tissue. Some women find the process to be uncomfortable.
Even though mammograms can be essential parts of preventive health care, many women avoid them because of pain and other discomfort. However, women should not put off mammograms because they are worried about discomfort. There are many ways to avoid pain during mammograms that can make the entire experience more comfortable.
• Schedule the mammogram for a week after a menstrual period when hormonal swings are less likely to increase breast sensitivity.
• Caffeine can make the breasts more tender. Reducing caffeine consumption for two weeks before the mammogram can help.
• Keep your feet and trunk facing forward and turn your head at the mammogram machine.
• Reduce tension by breathing deeply a few times before the procedure.
• Try a pain reliever before the mammogram.
• Ask the mammography center if it has padding, as cushioning between the breasts and the plates of the mammogram machine can reduce pain.
By taking these steps, women may be more comfortable during mammograms, which can play a vital role in the detection and ultimate treatment of breast cancer.