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Provided by Hologic

This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.

Mammograms don’t have to be painful

Women tend to avoid breast screening due to fear of discomfort, but new technology from local company Hologic is making pain a thing of the past.

This article is a part of BG BrandLab’s Breast Cancer Special Report, assessing the progress we’ve made in the battle against breast cancer and the barriers that we still need to overcome.

The American Cancer Society recently reported that 68% of women in Massachusetts age 40 and older had received a mammogram within the past year. While the state’s screening rate is higher than the national average, all women of screening age should be receiving annual mammograms to help prevent this all-too-common disease. Mammography is the best modern tool available when it comes to the fight against breast cancer, a disease that affects about one in eight women in the United States. Although mammograms have long been touted as the gold standard for breast cancer detection, and technological advancements such as 3D mammography have only improved their effectiveness, many women still avoid this essential exam due in large part to fear of the pain associated with breast compression.

A recent survey of 10,000 women found that fear of physical discomfort was the top reason cited for avoiding a mammogram by women who never had one. With this in mind, Marlborough, Mass-based Hologic, Inc. developed a system capable of reducing breast pain without compromising the effectiveness of the exam.

“While more and more women understand the importance of breast cancer screening and are diligent in getting their annual mammograms, there are still far too many women putting off this potentially life-saving exam due to the associated pain and discomfort. At Hologic, we are determined to change that,” says Pete Valenti, Hologic’s division president of breast and skeletal health solutions. “We want women to feel good about getting their annual mammograms. They should feel empowered that they have the accurate information they need to make informed decisions about their health—and we didn’t want pain or fear to get in the way of that.”

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray that allows doctors to look for changes in breast tissue and identify anything suspicious that could be cancerous. The exam is done by compressing the patient’s breast between two flat plates. While the compression is necessary for accurate screening and cancer detection, it can be quite painful for some patients and might discourage future exams. A number of professional societies, such as the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging, recommend women of average breast cancer risk begin receiving annual mammograms at age 40. However, a recent report published by the American Cancer Society found only 50% of U.S. women age 40 and older had received a mammogram within the past year.

Hologic’s SmartCurve™ breast stabilization system replaces the traditional flat compression paddle with a curved surface that mirrors the shape of a woman’s breast. The system reduces the under-arm pinching associated with mammograms and allows for better distribution of force. In a study, the system improved comfort in 93% of women who reported moderate to severe discomfort with standard compression.

Focused on improving women’s health through early detection and treatment, Hologic is the company behind a number of medical innovations including the Genius™ 3D Mammography™ exam, the only mammogram FDA approved as superior for all women, including those with dense breasts, compared to 2D mammography. The SmartCurve system is available exclusively with the Genius exam. Facilities, including those in Boston, are now adopting the SmartCurve system to offer a more comfortable mammogram to their patients, and women can locate the closest facility offering the more comfortable technology by visiting and looking for locations with the “Comfort Assured” badge.

“At Hologic, we are always focused on patient well-being and work tirelessly to ensure all women have the best possible chance at survival,” Valenti says. “By making this essential exam less painful and addressing an important reason women avoid mammograms, the SmartCurve system can help improve screening rates and potentially save lives.”

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women and can impact anyone, not just those with a family history. When used with the Genius exam, the SmartCurve system is the first and only 3D mammography system clinically proven to deliver a more comfortable and more accurate mammogram, compared to 2D mammography alone.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, put your health first by scheduling your annual Genius exam and, remember, mammograms don’t have to be painful anymore.

The Genius 3D Mammography exam (aka Genius exam) is acquired on the Hologic® 3D Mammography system and consists of a 2D and 3D image set, where the 2D image can be either an acquired 2D image or a 2D image generated from the 3D image set. The Genius exam is only available on the Hologic® 3D Mammography system. Please consult your physician for a complete list of benefits and risks associated with mammography.

© 2019 Hologic, Inc. Hologic, 3D, 3D Mammography, Genius, SmartCurve, The Science of Sure, and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Hologic, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.

This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.