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As a breast cancer surviver, I have had numerous mammograms. I have a great deal of pain during and after a mammogram. Medical personel do not believe me when I tell them of the intense pain. I have several healed broken ribs under breast tissue. The machine is pushed into the area of calcification on those ribs. My breast tissue is also extremely sensitive. I am swollen, like balloons, for at least 4 days after a mammogram. I have encountered very rude personel, suffered indignation and retrobutions from other tech's after reporting inappropriate behavior to the D.O.N.

How do we, as women, gain respect of our pain? How do we become heard and believed? How many others are out there who now refuse to have a mammogram because of pain? I know of numerous women in my area who refuse to have mammograms due to pain. Is there a study available?

How do we convince the medical profession of these very real issues? Most women do not have a great deal of discomfort or pain. But the few of us that do have very real pain, are ignored.

Even though I am a breast cancer surviver, I am to the point of refusing to ever again having a mammogram.

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Connie, I just want to agree w/u & support u. I have found most mammos to be very painful, have been left w/redness & pain lasting a few days. Last Aug, I was bruised. I am also a breast CA survivor. I had a diagnostic mammo in Feb of this year w/absolutely NO pain or discomfort. It was done @ the same place I've been having my mammos performed for about 15 years. This was the 1st time in 20+ yrs of mammos that there was no pain & I don't know why. I'm convinced the pain level depends on the individual tech performing the mammo.
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Thank you, Olivia, for your comment. I have had all my mammos done at this facility. All of them have been painful, regardless of who preformed the test. I take 800 mg of ibuprofen an hour before and it is still extremely painful. The tech's simply do not believe anyone can actually be having that much pain during the test. This happened on 4/4/12, and I saw the oncologist on 4/23/12. He noted that I still had edema from the test, I am very frustrated and do not wish to ever have one done again because they do not believe my pain level and don't care. I remain cancer free. Thank you again for your response Olivia.
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Hi Ladies,

Thanks for voicing your opinions on this forum. I am a UK-based tech, and I have encountered several women, who like you have the same adverse reaction to pain. Unfortunately, the nature of the examination is one which cannot be disassociated with a degree of discomfort. To obtain diagnostic mammograms, the compression paddle aims to get the breast tissue as flat as possible, in order to a. reduce the width of the breast tissue (thus reducing the radiation dose to your breasts) b. spread the breast tissue to as wide as possible area, and as few as possible layers. (thus ensuring that any abnormalities have little room to hide under the breast tissue). 

As such, this is not bound to be a pleasant procedure. I'm not convinced that the problem is that the technicians do not believe you. We have little choice, as the biggest fear of every radiation technician is to have a patient go through all the pain and discomfort, and due to technical reasons, have to be recalled for further screening, as the images are inadequate. I'm sure you as a patient would find this uncomfortable as well. 

I believe that you have done the right thing by anticipating the pain in advance, and even pro-actively taken some medication to help with it beforehand. We can only ask that you bear with us for the few seconds while the x-ray machine acquires an image, knowing that the benefits of the eamination far outweigh the risks of not having it. Here is a study on effective ways of controlling the pain experienced by patients : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002942.pub2/pdf/standard

If we can help it, we will.
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I don't think there is much to be done. It hurts as do many diagnostic procedures. "Pressure" = pain. Its' the medical way of signalling to the patient that they will feel pain, without stressing them by saying, "Pain". So I think we as people are too intelligent not to realize this-but when we are a vulnerable patient, we need more indirect refences. I for one find the process mentally distracting enough, ie, 'move this way', 'I'm going to lift this and put it here, then...blah, blah' that the pressure/pain only lasts a few seconds. Hold your breath and concentrate on the sounds of the machine. I've had the red tug marks from my upper chest and recently had the nipple imaging done-that stung  after, and why would it not? Think about breast feeding and intimacy and how sensitive that area is. Also, dense breast tissue can cause some issues due to needing more compression. No perm damage that I've heard of, but of course, some people probably do. The odds are against none ever happening. However, I've had 2 benign matters that have been handled, the earlier one that probalby could've become malignant, but did not, due to mammography and ultrasound, followed by almost completly painless surgery (no doubt due to compression bandages and a little painkiller, and a great surgeon who made a very small incision), with eventual return of normal sensation and a tiny barely visible scar.. I'm in the middle of a 3rd go round 10 years later, and I know I'll live-LIVE-with some twinges happily, as I know they were done save my life. Please don't blame the techs-they are no different than any other medics: They want to see you well. They want to fight illness and hold off death or they'd not be in the profession. And if they wanted to cause pain, I can think of other diagnostic procedures the'd be more inclined to be attracted to-mammos are one of the least. Stop watching movies about mad doctors. Understand a little pain now is the price of health later. There is nothing like getting a clear mammo once you get older and start worrying about how long your life will be. Then any procedure with a negative result is a gift. Best wishes.

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I hope you are well. I too long for research and acknowledgement about this problem; not just pain, but chronic illness induced by mammography, as in my case. Having nursed young mums dying of fungating breast cancer, I endured regular painful mammograms from age 24 as my dense, fibrocystic breasts were considered 'at-risk'. With motherhood I had mastitis 6 weekly over a decade. A year after I weaned my youngest she booted me in the breast. Six weeks later I was still in excruciating pain & was sent for mammogram. By the 15th compression I was begging to be released. Tech ridiculed me. Cyst ruptured. I fainted and 78 kilograms of me dangled from left breast in machine. They did an ultrasound. It soothed. "Mastitis" I mumbled. Groggily I left on bus; collapsed inside my door. My kids, aged 3-9, opened sofa bed and heaved me in. My rigours & delirium lasted a week. (We were in hiding having just escaped DV). The kids fended for themselves until Grandma found us. "I'm calling an ambulance. You must be hospitalised!" "No! Kids will be in danger!" My ex was a senior professional. He had money, power and credibility. (I did not). Aggrieved, he'd stop at nothing to get full custody. He'd already manipulated marriage-guidance counsellors and GPs to say that I was an unfit mother. The truth is that I had given up my career as a nurse as it was no longer safe to leave kids alone with him. I was worn out. My father, having studied law, had seen men like him get away with their threats and allegations. So he convinced Mum to, "Let her be". Neither Dad or I comprehended then how urgent IV antibiotics were. I stayed. Thus my health was shattered. But my kids were saved from their Dad's explosions until he addressed his PTSD. (he eventually became a good dad!) The acute illness left me bedridden for months. It turned into 3 years of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) . The latest episode has lasted 4 years. My immune system is shot. I am bedridden with infections every two to three weeks. I had to give up work completely. When I gave feedback to the breast clinic they denied any link between mastitis, mammograms, cyst rupture and chronic illness. I think I'll be waiting for my eldest, now 21, to complete his medical degree before anyone will attempt a PHD on it. Thanks, Jo from Australia
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I am sure you do not experience the pain that women with big dense breast experience. You are so insensitive to us. You thank that you are healthy cancer free. You are cancer free not because of the mammogram. You are cancer free because you did not have cancer period. I did not have cancer but the mammogram disabled me from working for a while and two months later I am still in excruciating pain. That did not happen to you. You are as selfish as the medical industry. Because the pain is not extreme for you, just shut up the ones that really hurt. It has been 100 years since mammograms were invented. Still cancer rates are increasing. Mammograms did not bring them down. It is worse now. Now it is almost impossible to find drinks in glass bottles. Plastic causes breast cancer and doctors do not tell you. Pink ribbon collects money instead of campaigning to require the government to stop the sell of drinks in plastic bottles. That would save lives. Women be proactive write to your congress women about this. The men probably will not care about us dying and suffering pain. Do not just write on a website. Write to your congress.
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don't know if you can or will look at my post on this subject under the screen name madame moose --- it sounds a lot like what you're saying. there's something very, very wrong with a test that is so horrible that women would rather risk death than get the test again. that's exactly what i said in my own post. i haven't been right since they crushed me and am, even now, clutching my breast with my hand because that soothes the pain. and we keep getting the same messages: "we don't believe you" you're hysterical, it's not important, and my favorite: we don't care. society and medicine truly just don't care. how sad is tha?
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This ignores the fact that when experiencing EXCRUCIATING PAIN it's mighty hard to even hold still! - Then you get a blurry image. Was it worth all of it then? There has to be a happy medium here.You technologists will never know of us women who STOP getting mammos after a horrifically painful experience.
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Hello, fellow mammographer here and I do understand the pain but you DO HAVE OTHER OPTIONS. You can ask your Dr. for a breast MRI order instead. You might be stuck with the bill depending on your insurance.
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