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Soft Pad Helps Reduce Mammography Pain (dateline November 21, 2003)

Over one million women have used a soft pad to help reduce discomfort during mammography, according to BioLucent, the maker of the MammoPad breast cushion. The MammoPad is a single-use, adhesive-backed cushioned pad that can be applied to both the mammographic plate and the breast compression paddle before a mammogram. Since many women cite discomfort as a reason for avoiding mammograms, a breast cushion could encourage more women to receive screening exams.

"The fact that more than a million women have now benefited from MammoPad shows how important it is to address women's complaints about mammography discomfort," said BioLucent President Jill Anderson, in a company news release. "We're very pleased that in just two years, MammoPad has achieved broad acceptance among both healthcare professionals and the patients they care for."

Mammography is a special type of x-ray exam used to image the breast tissue. The exam detects approximately 85% of all breast cancers, and currently, mammography is the only exam approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to screen for breast cancer in women with no signs or symptoms of the disease. Other exams, such as ultrasound, are often performed if an abnormality is detected with mammography or with a physical exam.

Because the MammoPad is radiolucent, it is invisible on a mammogram film. Thus, it does not obscure any breast tissue and does not cause artifacts (image distortions) on the mammogram. The MammoPad received clearance from the FDA in 2001.

In a study with the MammoPad, Swedish mammographer Laszlo Tabar, MD and researchers from the MemorialCare Breast Center in Laguna Hills, California assessed the pad’s effects on 505 women at the California facility and 838 women at Falun Central Hospital in Falun, Sweden. Each woman underwent mammography on both breasts; the pad was used on one breast but not the other. After mammography, the women were asked to complete a survey about their comfort during the exam.

Dr. Tabar and his colleagues found that the mammography pad reduced discomfort for 74% of the American women and for 66% of the Swedish women. On average, discomfort among these women decreased by 50%. Furthermore, women reported that the pad helped to provide a softer and warmer mammogram.

Recently, BioLucent launched a new breast cushion for use during spot compression mammography. According to BioLucent, the new pad is available in four sizes and shapes and is designed to provide comfort while spot compression views of the breast are taken during diagnostic mammography. Spot compression is often necessary if a breast abnormality is detected with screening mammography or physical examination. In these instances, the MammoPad is typically applied to the spot compression paddle and is used in combination with a standard MammoPad, which is applied to the magnification tower or image receptor.

The MammoPad is currently available at more than 1,000 radiology centers in the 50 United States. Women interested in the MammoPad should ask their physicians about the product or contact BioLucent at 866.460.4141 or

The U.S. National Cancer Institute recommends that all women 40 years of age and older receive screening mammograms every one to two years. Beginning at age 50, women should have yearly mammograms. In addition, women are recommended to perform monthly breast self-exams and receive regular physician-performed clinical breast exams. When detected in its early stages, breast cancer can often be successfully treated.

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