A More Comfortable Mammogram

The No.1 reason women don’t get mammograms is because they worry about physical discomfort. Bellevue Medical Imaging wants to change that, which is why it now offers SmartCurve, a new mammogram technology that increases comfort during exams.

Mammograms are important: They allow doctors to detect early breast cancer before symptoms present themselves, making treatment oftentimes more effective.

It’s no great secret, though, that mammograms are not fun. Many women avoid the recommended annual screening because they’re afraid of the physical discomfort associated with mammograms. A more comfortable experience, then, might change the game for women by removing a barrier to an important facet of their health.

Bellevue Medical Imaging certainly thinks so. In June, the clinic became the first in the area — and one of the first in the country — to have a breast stabilization system called SmartCurve, which is designed to provide a more comfortable mammogram.

“Breast pain experienced during a mammogram is directly related to the time spent under compression and the pressure distribution on the breast, and the SmartCurve system works to address these issues in ways traditional mammograms have not,” said Cathy Grant, a mammography technologist at Bellevue Medical Imaging. “The SmartCurve system has a proprietary curved surface that mirrors the shape of a woman’s breast to reduce pinching and allow better distribution of force over the entire breast.”

At the same time, Grant said, the quality of the images produced is not sacrificed and results remain accurate, meaning there is no tradeoff: It’s a win-win.

And if a mammogram does detect early signs of breast cancer, it might save a patient’s life. “Women who have annual mammograms have significantly better early detection and survival rates and have easier treatment options than women with late-stage disease,” said Dr. Brian Jacobs, a radiologist at Bellevue Medical Imaging. The best way to ensure early detection and all its accompanying benefits, he said, is with an annual mammogram.

So, if a barrier to that annual mammogram has, in the past, been the discomfort associated with the exam, SmartCurve’s arrival at Bellevue Medical Imaging means no more excuses. Take advantage of this new technology, which is a huge win for women throughout the Puget Sound region, by making an appointment now. It might just save your life.


SmartCurve system improves comfort in

93% of women

who reported having moderate to severe discomfort with standard mammogram technology.

Most women should have a baseline mammogram between the ages of


and if breast cancer runs in the family or a woman has a history of radiation therapy to the chest, this should be done earlier.

Women should also

do self-breast exams each month

and report changes to their primary care physician.

At and after age 40

women should have an annual screening mammogram.


Sources: Dr. Brian Jacobs, Radiologist at Bellevue Medical Imaging and Smith, A. Improving Patient Comfort in Mammography. Hologic WP-00119 Rev 001 (2017).

is an assistant editor at 425 magazine.
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