Compression and the occasional discomfort and pain it brings in the breasts lead many women to avoid mammograms altogether.
However, results from a recent study from Boise, to be published in September 08 edition of Radiology, showed that application of lidocaine gel prior to a mammogram significantly reduced the degree of discomfort experienced.
Lambertz and colleagues recruited 418 women ages 32 to 89 who expected significant discomfort with screening mammography. Fifty-four of the women reported that they had probably or definitely delayed their mammograms due to concern over possible discomfort.
The women were randomized to receive placebos or premedication with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and/or a local anesthetic gel followed by mammography screening. The gel was applied to the skin of the breasts and chest wall and then removed 30 to 65 minutes before mammography. The gel had no effect on subsequent image quality.
Results showed that oral medication produced no significant differences in breast discomfort, nor did other factors such as breast density. Women who received a topical application of 4% lidocaine gel, however, reported significantly less breast discomfort during mammography.
Eighty-eight percent of study participants indicated they would definitely get a mammogram the following year, and 10% said they would probably get a mammogram the following year.
"Women can now take charge of the situation," Lambertz said. "They can schedule a mammography appointment for a time in their cycle when their breasts are least tender, apply the gel at home, and travel to the appointment knowing they have taken steps toward a positive experience with this potentially life-saving procedure