Does Mammography Cause Breast Tenderness?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Mammography is the most important technique to early detect breast cancer; nonetheless, women are afraid of breast tenderness. That is the reason why researchers from evaluated how often breast tenderness are felt in mammography and identify factors that may be linked to this pain.

breast tenderness

A team of investigators from the Department of Radiology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston did a study to evaluate if women who attend to breast cancer screenings felt some degree of breast tenderness or any type of soreness. This study was led by Dr. Stomper, who reviewed the records from a several questionnaires and a survey formerly performed.

The study of Dr. Stomper was also conducted to study the impact of women's previous experiences of breast cancer test on their subsequent readiness to reattend.

The women who were screened completed a 43-question telephone questionnaire about 3 weeks after the mammography was took place. The investigators try to assess the independent predictors of breast breast tenderness at mammography at the same time controlling for all other factors. After the breast examination, patients quantified pain using a six-point scale. Discomfort was qualitatively evaluated by multivariate analysis.

Women aged 45-64 years from seven health centers were invited to attend for a second breast cancer test at a mobile clinic. A survey about their experience of the previous test was completed by 641 women who attended and 124 who did not attend the second test. Twenty six per cent of the women had found the preceding test painful, and a minority also reported embarrassment (7%) or distress (6%).Women who did not took the test for a second time were significantly more likely than those who did to report the previous screening test as embarrassing or distressing and were notably less likely to have found the clinic personnel helpful or attendance for screening worthwhile or reassuring.

Of the 1582 women who were tested, 1408 (89.0%) reattended. These women presented no breast tenderness or just felt mild pain, so they considered passing through a mammogram again. The intensity of discomfort was somewhat greater in women who complained of breast tenderness within three days prior to the mammogram but was not directly related to age, menstrual status, or week of the menstrual cycle.

Women scaled their experience on a six-point grade ranging from no discomfort to harsh pain. Eighty-eight percent of the women had no discomfort (49%) or mild discomfort (39%). Only 9% experienced moderate discomfort; 1%, harsh discomfort; and 1%, moderate pain. In other words, the breast tenderness was not strong enough to hinder a second test.


Breast tenderness, although not related to the intention to experience future mammography screenings, had a relatively low occurrence.