A new type of mammogram machine — a St. Joe’s first — provides screenings that are comfortable

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Uncomfortable. Painful. ­Anxiety-inducing.

These are some of the words used by women to describe what it’s like to get a mammogram.

But GE Healthcare has come up with a new, more comfortable mammography machine, installed Tuesday at St. Joseph’s Health Care in London, its first Canadian location.

The Senographe Pristina was designed by women for women.

The pink machine features rounded edges, warm surfaces and armrests for comfort. It also allows patients to control the compression and pace of the screening with the help of a technologist.

“It was rather interesting,” said Susan Forde, one of the patients who has already had a screening on the new machine. “I was pushing the button and I didn’t think it was actually working. I just didn’t feel a difference in the compression.”

The Canadian Cancer Society says mammograms are the most reliable method for finding breast cancer and recommends that women aged 50 to 69 get screened every two years. Those at higher risk, like women with family members who have been affected by breast cancer, can get screened yearly.

Forde is 65 and has been getting mammograms for 15 years. She said the more common machines left her with bruises and sore muscles. “It wasn’t pleasant, but you went anyway,” Forde said.

Typically, the screening involves placing a patient’s breast between two plastic plates that compress together. The Canadian Cancer Society website says the compression is necessary to help make images clearer while using as little radiation as possible.

Dr. Anat Kornecki, a radiologist at St. Joseph’s, said a major reason women avoid regular screening is the unpleasant experience associated with the compression.

This machine, however, has been made to feel like a spa with ambient noises, images and relaxing lighting.

“It’s not any different from having your hair or your nails done,” Kornecki said.

Another benefit of having relaxed patients is that there is less movement to interfere with image quality. Kornecki said that women’s muscles would often tense up and cause blurry images.

Since its installation July 31, about 40 to 50 patients a day have been screened.



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