Mammograms are considered as the best method of detecting early symptoms of breast cancer for women above 50 years and for younger ladies at risk of cancer. Mammograms are considered effective in addition to other methods of self-examination of breasts. However, one major setback for ladies in the quest to use mammograms is the fact that though helpful, mammograms are quite painful.
The procedure involves placing ones’ breasts between two flat plates, applying some pressure, and scanning the breast tissues. For years, women have been evading going for regular mammograms due to the fear of the discomfort and pain associated with compression of breasts during the process of examination using flat plates. In fact, a survey of 10,000 women indicated that the fear of pain and discomfort was the main reason cited for avoiding regular mammograms. This therefore necessitated research to develop a mammogram system that would get rid of the pain.
A new innovation which involves using curved plates for mammograms is being developed to help in reducing the discomfort. Hologic introduced a more comfortable mammogram with the launch of the SmartCurve breast stabilization system. The SmartCurve system is more comfortable and yet does not compromise the image quality or accuracy of the mammogram examination. Tracy Accardi the leader of Hologic’s research and development team said, “As a woman, I know firsthand that all too often, annual mammograms are considered a necessary evil.
We understand the critical role the exam plays in the early detection of breast cancer, but we know how uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, the exam can be. The associated anxiety causes many women to avoid or delay this potentially life-saving exam, something we set out to change when developing the first-of-its-kind SmartCurve system.”
In addition to providing increased comfort and accuracy of the mammogram examination process, the image processing algorithm of the SmartCurve system makes sure that there is no change in positioning or workflow for technologists and radiologists who will be administering the exams. Clinicians are confident that they will be affording their patients a better experience at a high efficiency in their facilities.
According to Pete Valenti, Hologic’s Division President, Breast and Skeletal Health Solutions, they are a world leader in the development and research leader in breast cancer screening technology. Pete Valenti said, “Hologic is the world leader in breast cancer screening technology, and with that leadership comes a responsibility to develop products that provide optimal patient satisfaction without sacrificing clinical performance.”
Why Reducing Mammogram Pain Is So Important
The SmartCurve system is being advanced as a way to make sure more of our ladies go for mammograms. In a study by Hologic, it was noted that discomfort associated with mammograms was the greatest turnoff for women. Several attempts have been previously pursued in a bid to make mammography less painful; a gadget meant to measure pressure exerted on the breasts when placed between the mammography plates was advanced in 2015.
This device was developed to help monitor the pain experienced by patents and try to help control the pain. However, the SmartCurve system is the biggest stride towards the improvement of the mammography system itself. Well, one might wonder Why on earth did this take so long?
Mammography has long been associated with pain and discomfort. In an essay by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it was noted that one technician likened the mammography system to an industrial panini press. Furthermore, just like several other routine medical procedures for women, it seems that the comfort of the patients was not much of a priority. Some procedures such as the use of stirrups for gynecological examinations, the scrape of the Pap smear, placement of speculums up a lady’s nether regions are quite painful or uncomfortable. Thus, comfortable mammograms are a real big deal.
As noted by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, one in eight women in America will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. Women within the age recommended by the Center for Disease Control should consider going for regular mammograms: you can get started as early as 40. For the younger women who are high-risk of breast cancer or are already experiencing the symptoms, consult your doctor on how and/or when to go for the mammograms.
With the inception of the SmartCurve innovation into the market, we can only be hopeful that further research will yield fruitful results that will lead to invention of similar products to alleviate the pain and discomfort from not only the mammograms but also other routine procedures for women. As for the SmartCurve system: no more bruised breasts in your quest to combat breast cancer.
Have you had a mammogram before?
What was your experience?
What do you think about the SmartCurve innovation?