To find out if someone has breast cancer, the breasts are ‘crushed’ during breast cancer screening. But that changes thanks to the tailor-made mammograph.

Dutch women between the ages of 50 and 75 receive an invitation every two years for the breast cancer screening program . That happens with a mammography . Also women with complaints, or with hereditary breast cancer in the family, undergo this research. Most women find a mammography annoying because a compression plate squeezes the breasts. That can hurt a lot. More than 40 percent still have pain the next day and a decent group runs five days with bruised breasts. A considerable proportion of the women called up are so afraid of the investigation that they do not show up after the first time.

Bruising

The plates of the mammographer practice the same power with every woman: eighteen kilos. An enormous weight. “A mammography is especially painful for women with small breasts, sometimes we see bruises, but that does not necessarily mean that we sometimes have to push two to three times harder than necessary”, says Ard den Heeten, former professor radiology at the AMC in Amsterdam and director of the National Reference Center Breast Cancer (LRCB).

Maximum pressure

Den Heeten, together with AMC former professor of medical physics Kees Grimbergen, developed a device that does not compress a breast more than is really necessary for a clear picture. “The ordinary mammographer is actually a very stupidly designed device,” says Den Heeten, “because you can not objectively determine how much pressure is needed, which is why many lab technicians now press on their feelings and experience, but often also until the woman protests, or until the skin becomes visibly tense. “

Precision work

The ‘tailor-made mammogram’ takes into account the size and firmness of a breast and calculates which maximum pressure is needed to ‘flatten’ the breast for a good image. Lights indicate when that pressure has been reached. The technique is suitable for new mammographs, but also for adaptation of existing devices.

Less painful

Research in the AMC with the tailored mammogram shows that this is much less painful for most women. And the image quality of the X-rays in this method is just as good as in the traditional method. Harder pushing yields little added value for the photo after a certain point, while the last millimeters cause the most pain. “

Breast cancer screening centers responded enthusiastically to the tailored mammogram. They hope that more women participate in the population screening when it is less stressful. That would be nice, because the sooner you are there, the greater the chance of recovery . Heeten therefore expects that the screening program will also make use of the customized mammograph.

Women – especially those with small breasts – can already ask in their own hospital with a regular mammogram whether a lab technician would like to print less, Den Heeten recommends. “Laborants should know that they have to press less hard in small breasts to get a good picture.”

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The site was founded by Gerald Crimmins. The objective of this website is to present as many individuals as possible to mental health.