, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 235-240

Pain experienced by women attending breast cancer screening

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the pain experience of women during mammography for breast cancer screening. Possible associations with personal and medical history, sociodemographics and/or situational factors were studied. It was also investigated whether this pain influenced the intention to return for future breast cancer screening. In the Netherlands, women between 50–75 years are invited for screening every two years. A total of 1200 participants were asked to fill up a questionnaire. The response rate was 79.5% (n = 954), and 945 questionnaires contained adequate information for analyses. A total of 689 women (72.9%) described mammography as mild to severely painful. In this group, compared to the group that reported no pain, the following factors occurred significantly more often: sensitive breasts (P = 0.001), family history of breast diseases (P = 0.017), expected pain based on former mammography (P = 0.001), high education (P = 0.008), anxiety (P = 0.001), breast sensitivity in last three days (P = 0.001), insufficient attention of technologist (P = 0.001). Other factors like age, hormonal status, breast size and hormone use were not associated with the pain experienced. Thirty-two women (3.3%) indicated that they would not attend further screening, 25 (2.6%) reported that the pain might deter them, six women (0.6%) had other reasons, one woman (0.1%) was sure not to come because of severe pain. In conclusion, a large majority of women attending breast cancer screening describes mammography as painful (72.9%). Factors associated with pain were described. Relatively few women (2.7%) indicated that the pain might deter them from future mammography. Recommendations are given to reduce the pain experienced during screening mammography.