By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – If you have ever had a mammogram, you know they can be uncomfortable but according to a French study giving women some control over the procedure can ease pain without sacrificing quality.

When a woman has a mammogram, her breasts are literally squashed between two metal plates by a technician. And just when you think they can’t be flattened any further the tech squeezes them just a little bit more.  The goal is to make the breast tissue as thin as possible to get the most detailed image to look for abnormalities.

But researchers in France found that when women are allowed to place their own breasts in the machine and control the compression themselves, they tend to compress their own breasts even more than the technicians and often report less pain. And overall there is no difference in image quality.

Involving women in the process may be more time consuming, but the hope is that if some centers offer this option, some women reluctant to have a mammogram may be more likely to get one.

Dr. Mallika Marshall