Is Mammography Painful?: A Multicenter Patient Survey
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Anecdotal reports of pain experienced during mammography have been a source of anxiety and concern for some women considering screening. To determine what asymptomatic women actually experience during mammography, a survey of 1847 women was performed at seven breast-imaging centers. Women recorded their experience on a six-point scale ranging from no discomfort to severe pain. Eighty-eight percent of the women experienced no discomfort (49%) or mild discomfort (39%). Only 9% experienced moderate discomfort; 1%, severe discomfort; and 1%, moderate pain. No woman had pain so severe that it would make her reconsider having a mammogram again. The degree of discomfort was slightly greater in women who complained of breast tenderness within three days prior to the mammogram but was not strongly related to age, menstrual status, or week of the menstrual cycle. We conclude that in a vast majority of women mammography causes no or mild physical discomfort and that actual pain is an uncommon occurrence.