Does a mammogram hurt?

Asked by


Learning About Breast Cancer over 3 years ago
  • anonymous
    Survivor since 2009

    A mammogram is not my favorite thing to do, but I would not say it hurts. There is a little discomfort due to the pressure that is put on the breast as the plates of the mammography reader press against the breast, but the discomfort immediately goes away when the pressure if relieved.

    over 3 years ago Comment Flag
  • Missing
    Learning About Breast Cancer

    A mammogram is like a "walk in the park" to me compared to getting a pap smear! I had a baseline mammogram done when I was 35 just because I thought it was important to get a screening done at that age. I then began to have a yearly mammogram at age 40.
    I agree with Ms. Jo Ann in that the pressure put on the breast is minimal and it is only for a few seconds. It is tolerable and the discomfort is worth getting a clean bill of health!
    "Get your Mammies Grammed Girls!!!" : )

    over 3 years ago Flag
    • anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I find mammograms intensely painful. I have large breasts, dense breast tissue and my breast are normally sensitive anyway. Due to breast cancer I had 11 biopsies on a tightly focussed portion of my right breast, a hook wire insertion, lumpectomy...

      see more

      I find mammograms intensely painful. I have large breasts, dense breast tissue and my breast are normally sensitive anyway. Due to breast cancer I had 11 biopsies on a tightly focussed portion of my right breast, a hook wire insertion, lumpectomy and many stitches. Mammograms are now even more painful. I suck on the Green Whistle for pain relief during the compression, I take oxycontin about an hour before the mammogram and I apply lidocaine gel to the breast as well about half an hour before. Even with all these pain relieving measures, I am in pain for months after a mammogram. So much so the pain interferes with my normal routine. I have thrown up immediately after a mammogram from pain.

      almost 3 years ago Flag
    • Comment
  • Missing
    Learning About Breast Cancer

    I am always concerned when a question is asked about pain levels associated with ANY procedure related to breast cancer and the responses are uniformally rosy or at least, minimal when it comes to reporting pain.
    The real answer is - the pain levels depend on a host of factors and it can vary enormously from one women to another. For example, if you have dense breasts and a history of breast pain and sensitivity to having your breasts touched heavily or manipulated, as well as strong hormone related breast pain, then it is feasible that you will find mammograms painful. Further, scientists have recently found that sensitivity to pain is genetically based, so if you are part of the population who have the pain sensitivity genetic make up [you will know who you are as you will have a history of people assuring you X or Y does not hurt much but when you have it, the roof of yor head blasts off with pain - thats when they start calling you a wimp or pathetic or whatever] then your experience more pain than those without the gene.

    I am so sick of the ability to withstand pain being portrayed as a moral virtue when in fact a lot of it is the luck of the draw with genetics.

    I also regularly run into women who actively avoid much needed mammograms because of the pain. I then see scientific studies where resources are poured into answering the question "wh do women avoid having mammograms even when they are free?" One reason they regulary fail to cite is the pain. Yes, pain NOT discomfort.

    I am writing this because I am a breast cancer survivor who not only finds mammograms very painful, I am also one of the 40% of women who developed breast seroma following surgery. A seroma is a fluid filled sac in the breast which in my case although smallish, is also very painful. I have to hold what remains of my right breast if the car goes over a speed hump as breast jiggling is painful.

    I am supposed to have my first post surgery annual mammogram in about 8 weeks.The idea of my scarred breast with a seroma, which already experienced bad pain on mammograms without these features scares the dickens out of me. I had an MRI [which I paid for myself] late last year - zero radiation, zero pain and a far more sensitive test for invasive ie., the most dangerous kind of breast cancer. In my case, due to dense breasts, mammograms are also only around 60% accurate albeit better at detecting non-invasive forms of breast cancer.
    I have now decided I am not going to put up with the pain from mammograms any more. I have therefore written to the centre that will be conducting my annual mammograms for the rest of my life and said I do not consent to having any mammograms done in future without adequate pain relief. I know from experience a local anesthetic injection - which I tolerate well - completely ends all pain. I am also willing to consider trialling a numbing agent like EMLA cream applied an ahour or two before the mammogram and wrapped in saran and/or breathing through one of those pain relief tubes ambulances and paramedics carry with them.
    If anyone reading this has any concerns about the pain involved in having your breasts - with or without surgeyr scars and seromas - squeeed and flattened to one inch thick - then I urge you to contact the mammogaphic service ahead of your appiontment and put it in writing that your consent to the procedure in contingent on being provided with a decent choice of pain relief.
    Do not be held to the standard of the most stoic or tough patient and refuse to be emotionally blackmailed into shutting up and suffering needlessly. The pain relief options I have llisted are cheap, simple and used every minute of every day in all sorts of medical settings, so the side effects are minimal.
    Don't let them get away with hurting you if avoiding being subject to pain is a priority to you. By all means if avoiding or embracing physical pain is acceptable to you - then go ahead without pain relief.

    about 3 years ago Comment Flag
  • Missing
    Learning About Breast Cancer

    I find them very painful. I had one years ago because a lump was found. I'm small and the area is dense, so all I kept hearing was how little fat I had from the technician to the specialist. I then had to go for an ultrasound anyway because they couldn't really see because of the density. I ended up with scrapes above and below my breasts and pain for quite a while after.
    I haven't gone again because of the pain, but know that I'm supposed to. If the same thing happens, what's the point? Still the doctor insists on the mammogram. This is not how they would look for testicular cancer and some of us find our breasts just as bad for pain. I think it is barbaric how they have not made this test less painful

    5 months ago Comment Flag
  • anonymous
    Learning About Breast Cancer

    I am 45 years old. Just had my mammogram because a felt lumps in my breast. This was my first mammogram and I was very scared after reading all the stories about how uncomfortable and painful it can be. I can happily report that it was neither painful or too uncomfortable. Just a little pressure; I could have handled the pressure for extended time; and I would be willing to get a mammogram on daily basis if I had to. I had large, painful cysts in both breast but still the pressure from mammogram did not bother them; I guess because the pressure is even and it is not focused on that one specific painful area. So , don't be afraid from getting a mammogram. My did not hurt at all; was not awkward or not even uncomfortable; my breasts did not hurt after the procedure either. I know others may have much worse experiences with mammogram but I wanted to share mine, just in case if it helps someone to get her mammogram with less fear. By the way I have really small breasts. I wear 34 A sized bra.

    about 2 years ago Comment Flag
  • Missing
    Learning About Breast Cancer

    I had my 2nd mammogram yesterday. I am 43 and an A cup. My first examination 2 years ago was uncomfortable but not unbearable.
    My examination yesterday was terrible, it hurt SO much and I was SO upset by it all.
    Everything from how the corners of the machine were poking in my armpits, to how my small breasts were ripped from my chest and squashed into extinction.
    The nurse seemed experienced enough but I think she thought I was a wuss for going into panic mode afraid to move or breathe because it hurt so much. I made it to the street before bursting into tears.
    I am strong and brave and have a high threshold for pain. This was an out of body experience for me and I detest people who generalise that it is not painful and you have nothing to worry about, just because they can just flop their breasts on the machine with no effort.

    4 months ago Comment Flag

Educational Video

Personal Story

Related Topics

Looking for another topic? Use the search box in the top right.


Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.

spread the word