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Mammograms NVR

My partner had one 9 years ago and found it extremely painful.

Has anyone had a mammogram in more recent years (or known someone who has) and what was it like?

My partner has been putting it off for years even though a close family member died from breast cancer and has finally made an appointment. The reason she has been putting it off is because 9 years ago a Doctor found a lump in her breast and she was asked to have a mammogram, found it extremely painful and then thankfully the lump turned out to be nothing.

I have said it is better to know than not, but pain seems to be the main factor in preventing her from having regular checks. Does anyone know if it has become less painful in years? And I know patients are asked not to wear deoderant/talc but (and this may sound like a silly question) what about shaving your armpits? Is this a no-no? Thanks veg-webbers....

A few seconds of discomfort is far better than the pain of surgery & chemotherapy.....& possibly death!  And besides, it doesn't hurt that much, honest.

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I am guilty of putting it off myself so I don't know about the pain personally.  I've had family and friends who've had them, but their discomfort level varied from person to person.  Here is some information regarding pain/discomfort of mammograms from the web.

http://www.imaginis.com/breasthealth/news/news7.26b.00.asp

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I have had a few mammograms, they weren't painful, but uncomfortable. However, I have not had any in the past couple of years. If we all start having them YEARLY by age 40, that means by age 70 we will have had 30 mammograms, and each time you are exposed to radiation, a cancer risk. Granted I know it is a small risk, but yearly? In Europe they only do them every 2 years or every 3 years, unless you are at high risk. I have read so many controversial things about them, I just don't know..... :-\

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I'm glad that mammograms save lives and all...but they seriously PI$$ me off.  They MUST come up with a better, painless way of screening for breast cancer.  You know that if all men where supposed to have an exam yearly that involved painful squashing of their genitals, doctors would be rushing to invent another method. 

I've not had a mammogram yet, because I'm still fairly young and breast cancer (and cancer in general) does not run in my family...but I'm very concerned.  (I have large, firm breasts...and I KNOW it would be extremely painful.)  I will seriously look into alternative methods of screening before subjecting myself to a mammogram...

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My mom did a paper on this while working on her ND...

http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/cancer2/mamo.htm

http://www.breastthermography.com/

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I have read so many controversial things about them, I just don't know.....

This is precisely why I still haven't gone in for one.  I have a high pain threshold so it's not the pain that I'm most worried about, it's being exposed to radiation.  My cousin had a rare form of breast cancer that was missed by the mammogram, but she found via self exam.  What to do?? :-\

http://www.newstarget.com/010886.html

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I think that it depends a lot on the technician doing the mam. I've had several now and do tend to have tender breast anyway. I've never found them that uncomfortable. Which reminds me I need to make an appointment before my insurance runs out. I'm due this year.

Please don't put it off!!! Breast cancer when found early is VERY treatable. When undiagnosed until later stages it is most often fatal. My mom kept putting off hers and died at the age of 46.  :'(

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Hi - I'm new here, but I just wanted to say that it was a mammogram which detected my mother's very early breast cancer and as a result she is still fine 17 years on with just a little breast tissue missing.  I went for my first one recently.  Comfortable it was not, reassuring it was.  However, I think we only do them every 3 - 5 years in this country (on the NHS at least)

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I haven't gotten one - I'm 24. I did have a doctor use the ultrasound machine on my breasts, though, after my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was easy, simple, pain free.

My mom said her doctor got a new mammogram machine that hurts even more than the last one, lol.

Truth is, statistically speaking, most breastcancers are not found through mammograms. Most are caught by a breast self exam or by your own doctor. Not to say mammograms don't find cancer - they DO. But, they're not the number one way in which women find out they have it.

I check my breasts every other week (yea, it's probably overkill). My grandmother had breastcancer and she found her lump through a self exam. She went through chemotherapy, and got out OK on the other side. 7 years later, she's still doing well.

Personally, I really think THAT is a woman's best bet against cancer. You (or your partner) know your breasts best. So, every month you will get used to how they feel. When there is a change ... you WILL feel it. And you will feel it far sooner than a doctor, you will feel it far sooner than the once a year mammogram machine. But, in order for this to work, you have to examine your breasts every month - no skipping. Sadly, most women don't do this. Or if they do, they don't do it properly.

I don't plan on getting mammograms. It sounds a bit counterproductive to blast my breasts with radiation in order to find cancer. No thank you. Not that I'm encouraging anyone else to stop going. Just stating my own personal belief.

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The worst part about all of this is the pressure on women to have the mammogram done. Once you are 39 or 40, they keep pushing and pushing. I wish a doctor would respect my wishes and not try to make me out like I am a paranoid idiot, this happens to me every time. Some well respected Dr. will admit that there is some risk to having mammograms. Well, let's make up our own minds then...., this frustrates me to no end, and I actually have been putting off going to a Dr. for a while now, but want to find one that will listen to me.

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go to a female doctor...they may be more likely to listen.

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Truth is, statistically speaking, most breastcancers are not found through mammograms. Most are caught by a breast self exam or by your own doctor. Not to say mammograms don't find cancer - they DO. But, they're not the number one way in which women find out they have it.

Mammograms may not be the number one finder of breast cancers but they are the number one finder of EARLY breast cancer. Finding breast cancer early is the most important factor in survivability of breast cancer. By the time a lump has grown to the size a woman can palpate it it has probably been there for up to two years. Even w/ monthly self exams.

Also mammograms expose you to about as much radiation as a cross country flight.

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I took a public health course with a phenomenal professor who always pushed the "back it up with evidence" approach. He recommended we look at the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) for recommendations on different screening/prevention techniques and their effectiveness. The have a rating system to show how strongly they support different things and will give a "neither for or against" rating for things in which the research findings are not conclusive. Here's what they have to say about breast cancer screening:

http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsbrca.htm

The recommend a mammo every 12-33 months, based on individual risk. Right now, my mom's doctor wants her to have a mammo every 6 months, which I think is super crazy, but her mom died of breast cancer and her aunt is a breast cancer survivor so she's very paranoid.

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Mammograms may not be the number one finder of breast cancers but they are the number one finder of EARLY breast cancer. Finding breast cancer early is the most important factor in survivability of breast cancer. By the time a lump has grown to the size a woman can palpate it it has probably been there for up to two years. Even w/ monthly self exams.

Also mammograms expose you to about as much radiation as a cross country flight.

This is true. But, my logic still stands. If most women catch it with a breast self exam, and they survive ... then it stands to reason that mammograms aren't the number one defense. And a self exam will catch it in time (if done properly, methodically, and routinely). 

It's not the amount of radiation that concerns me. I realize all the other forms to which I am also exposed, not just in flying (which I do quite frequently). My concern is avoiding unecessary radiation. In my experience with my grandmother, and from what my grandmother's oncologist told me ... I've come to the personal conclusion that I'll be skipping mammograms. I don't need that added radiation, aimed right at my breasts, on top of all the other radiation to which I'm exposed.

Again, just my personal opinion. I am certainly NOT encouraging anyone to avoid mammograms! That's an individual decision. We all play the risk/reward game and make decisions based on it.

Personally, I think the big problem is that few women take the time to learn, properly and in person (not from a text, but a doctor), how to do a self breast exam. And then stick to doing that every single month for the rest of their lives.

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In the US, a woman dies as a result of breast cancer every 13 minutes. 

Women whose breast cancer was detected with mammography have the highest survival rates, followed by clinical breast exams, and cancer detected by self breast exams have the lowest survival rate.  It's a unified approach.  You're supposed to do self exams and have screenings. 

As to the pain, my doctor has yet to recommend one for me (I'm 35), but what I hear is that you can request them not to squish you as tightly.  You give up some sensitivity of the test being able to detect abnormalities, but it seems like a good choice if that's the obstacle keeping you from ensuring your health. 

Or, think Rocky Balboa thoughts and take the pain.  As my dad says, "It'll put hair on your chest."

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I had one and I have big ol' whopping fat girl boobs.  They squish you pretty good and you have to stand and lean against the machine... I found it very uncomfortable but not actually painful.  I did crack up the nurse telling her that my mother had always told me to keep my tits OUT of the wringer...

It's worth it.  Even if it hurts -- which it shouldn't, much -- it is indeed better than possible alternatives.  I've lost too many family members/acquaintances to breast cancer not to insist on this one for my own dear ones.

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Here is where my confusion comes in. I was raised in America, but outside of the western medicine culture. We used ... eastern medicine/philosophy. Not any weird, kooky stuff. But, the practical, day to day, preventative stuff. If you look at Japan, the rate of breast cancer in women is MUCH less than in America. But, when you study Japanese women living in America, their chances of breast cancer are equal to an American woman. So, what is the difference? Diet and lifestyle.

Look at what women eat in Japan, and look at what women eat in America. If you're born in America, for the most part, by the time you're 20 you've been pumped full of growth hormones (from food) and synthetic hormones (from birth control). It's no wonder that, eventually, your body develops cancer. But, here is the kicker for me, the SAME doctor who will recommend more radiation in the form of a mammogram will also prescribe hormonal contraceptives and deny that organic food makes any difference at all. Granted, not all doctors will say this ... but a surprising number will. It's only recently that this is changing.

To me, that kind of "preventative medicine" is crazy. That's not preventative at all. It's more like, let's wait around to catch the disease when it happens. Instead of, let's avoid it altogether.

The first thing I did when I was 18 was get my genes tested, see what was in my DNA. I came up negative for the breast cancer gene. OK, so now I know with what I'm dealing. Now, it's up to me. So, I made sure my lifestyle was extremely healthy - avoiding as many things as possible that were known carcinogens. I try to eat lots of anti-cancer foods, i.e. miso. And I plan to breastfeed all my kids for at least one year (maybe 2) - reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Now, if I had had the breast cancer gene, I would have done it a little differently. I'd have seen a doctor every year for ultrasounds (for when my breast tissue is too dense for mammograms) and then at age 40 I would re-evaluate my risk/reward option for mammograms.

So, it's not that I'm againt mammograms ... I just think the whole breast cancer prevention campaign is missing huge chunks. Such as how to avoid cancer in the first place. I don't understand why getting one's DNA tested isn't a common practice. Knowledge is power, after all. Doctors should be promoting cancer fighting foods like miso, breastfeeding, and lifestyle changes. Instead, they're giving away hormones like candy and are still oblivious to organic diets and even to vegan diets.

My S/O had lymphoma ... and, before, he got it, not a single doctor ever told him that the stuff in deodarents is not good for your lymph nodes, that the foods you eat matter, etc.

I just think, as a society, we need to go through a radical change if we truly want to prevent cancer - as opposed to simply catch it when it happens. Mammograms can be great tools for those who have a history of breast cancer in their family or have the gene ... but, for others, they don't get to the root of the problem - prevention in the first place.

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After your SO has the procedure, I think feedback is in order to convince boob-crushing pansies, such as myself, that it's not that bad.

I mean, it can't be as bad as a pap smear, can it?  Anyone have info on those.  I've made excuses for the past five years not to schedule one.  Here's what I've heard it involves:  a visual examination of genital, rectal, and urethra areas; two tissue samples (one from the cervix, but I'm not sure where the other one is taken); and then two fingers being inserted to feel the ovaries.  Is that it?  How bad is it?  Do I have to fill out a form ahead of time with sexual history or anything?

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There's a lot of varied cancer in my family, but I can't always afford a gynae visit. I don't go on the national health because of my history of trauma...and with them it's VERY traumatic. Not because of pain but the fact that they treat you like a piece of furniture and mock if you become upset. (Like, "What's the big deal? Don't be a baby!")

My paid gynae is a woman and she has wonderful hands. You wouldn't know she was anywhere near you except she SAYS, "OK, I'm going to touch you now." I don't know about two tissue samples for a Pap...as far as I know they swab some of the vaginal mucus, and then take a small scrape...which if the person knows what they're doing is only minor. My gynae uses ultrasound so there's no manual feeling of the ovaries since she can see where they are; the ultrasound is what found the ovarian cyst I had removed 4 yrs ago.

Here in Spain they don't offer or recommend the "boob smash" until age 45-46 unless you have close relatives (mother, sister, aunt) who have definitely had breast cancer. I'm going to have to do it this yr. I guess 5 min of discomfort is preferable to radiotherapy, chemo, and/or a mastectomy.

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I think most doctors like to have a "baseline" mammogram done while you're in your 30s. That gives them something to compare with subsequent mammograms.

My mother had breast cancer and I've had mammograms every year for years. I have always found them painful, but I have large boobs and smashing them flat has never been one of my favorite things to do with them.  ;)

I will say, the mammogram I just had was the first one I have had since transitioning to veganism from almost 30 years of being a vegetarian (big on dairy, not so much on eggs) and the pain level was dramatically lower. I cannot say definitively that it's because I'm not eating dairy, but I don't have any other reasons to think this time would have been any different from the times before.

Another interesting factor is that I had a cyst that has since disappeared!

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