Skip to main content


  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

PB.15: Pain in mammography: where and why does it arise?

  • 1 and
  • 1
Breast Cancer Research201315 (Suppl 1) :P15

  • Published:


  • Experience Data
  • Cancer Research
  • Marital Status
  • Likert Scale
  • Chest Wall


The purpose of the study was to determine the intensity of pain experienced by women undergoing mammography examination through investigation of biological, psychological and technical factors that influence any pain felt during the examination.


Sixty-four women presenting for diagnostic and screening mammography were examined. Pain experience data were collected at three discrete time-points during mammography using both a visual analogue and Likert scales.


Pain due to compression was rated by 96.6% of women. The pain/discomfort averaged between mild (42%) to moderate (49%) in the craniocaudal (CC) projection and between mild (22%), moderate (61%) to very severe pain (13.5%) in the mediolateral oblique (MLO) projection. Correlation identified significant associated factors for pain: women's age (P = 0.001), menstruation (P = 0.042), menopausal status (P = 0.002) and marital status (P = 0.000). A unique aspect was the investigation of the sources of pain in each projection. Pain experienced during breast compression mainly arises from compression pressing on the middle of the breast and chest wall in the CC and from the compression pressing on the sternum, middle and underside of the breast and the axilla in the MLO.


This study supports other published work that women experience pain during breast compression within mammography and that the radiographer plays a major role in the women's experience of pain. The study contributes to the pain debate by showing where the pain arises in the breast specifically during compression and the degrees of pain felt.

Authors’ Affiliations

University College Dublin, Ireland


© O'Leary and Al Maskari; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.