PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Researchers say they’ve found new technology that could make breast cancer screenings less painful.
This is something millions of women have been hoping for as the annual breast cancer screening traditionally involves some intense compression. Doctors say smart curve could take the ouch out of your next mammogram.
Dog breeder Dominique Dube remembers her first mammogram, an experience shared by many women.
“It was not hurting, but it was, I would say, uncomfortable,” Dube recalled.
Doctors know the compression necessary for a mammogram is difficult.
“Some patients do complain of pain, pinching and pulling of the skin when they get their mammogram,” radiologist Dr. Donna Plecha said.
A study of 1,200 women says nearly three out of four women describe the test as mildly to severely painful. Three percent said they wouldn’t come back.
“So any way we can try and make it more comfortable for patients, I think is a good idea,” Dr. Plecha said.
The potential solution is a new technique called Smart Curve.
Instead of flat paddles with square edges, the Smart Curve has smooth, curved edges, more like the contour of the breast but the compression is the same.
The study compared mammogram results with the two different paddles.
“There were all different ways that we looked at this to compare, so we didn’t bias the study in any way,” Dr. Plecha said.
The study of 100 women found the Smart Curve mammogram provided good comfort levels and the images were comparable.
“We were able to pull as much tissue as we could into the picture, because you don’t want to miss anything near the chest wall,” Dr. Plecha explained. “And the pictures themselves looked just as good as the other pictures we usually get on mammogram.”
The Smart Curve is expected to be released for purchase to mammography centers in the next few months.
Dube could tell a difference when she had the Smart Curve and she hopes it will be available for her next mammogram.
“Yes, I wish it would be the one they used on me the last time,” Dube said. “I think with the new way, it would be much better for every woman.”
Experts say the Smart Curve technology, like other mammograms, would be covered by insurance. It’s unclear what local centers could be getting it but women should check with their doctors if interested.