Getting a regular yearly mammogram is not something most of us look forward to, but researchers and product developers have been working on ways to make the procedure more comfortable so that women will be more likely to make and keep their mammogram appointments. Breast screening is so important to women’s health, so it’s vital that we increase the number of women getting these screenings.
That’s where the 3D SmartCurve system comes in. This new mammogram technology is specially designed with fewer sharp edges and more natural curves to make the compression of the breast more comfortable. With the pain and discomfort removed from the procedure, the hope is that women will be less afraid to get their yearly mammograms and more cancer cases will be caught early, leading to improved outcomes.
“Let’s face it, many women are used to mammograms being extremely uncomfortable, and that could be the reason they’ll put off getting screened for years,” said Stephanie Golovich, a registered mammography technician at Coral Springs Women’s Diagnostic and Wellness Center.
The center is one of the first to adopt two SmartCurve mammography machines as part of its renovation project.
“The softer design and paddle shape are comfortable for my patients, and comfort is really, really important when you’re doing a mammogram,” said Golovich.
But the new technology offers more than just comfort—it’s also a more comprehensive way for radiologists to spot breast problems, particularly in women with large breasts or breast implants. The more detailed imagery can catch things that traditional mammography is incapable of showing, which contributes to earlier diagnoses and better prognoses. Hologic 3Dimensions Mammography reports that early detection of breast cancer is up 54 percent with the new machines.
If you’re concerned about getting your next mammogram because you’re afraid that you have cancer, you should know that, statistically, there is very little to worry about. “80 percent of the mammograms I do – maybe even more than that – do not show any cancer,” said Golovich.
And if you’re worried about the discomfort, rest easy knowing more and more comfortable options are becoming available. Even if there’s not one available in your area yet, a traditional mammogram only takes a few minutes, and the peace of mind is well worth the potential pain. Get those mammograms, ladies!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?