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JAMA Intern Med. 2019 Feb 4. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.7169. [Epub ahead of print]

Self-compression Technique vs Standard Compression in Mammography: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Author information

Department of Radiology, Institut de Cancérologie de Lorraine Alexis Vautrin, Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France.
Department of Radiology, Institut Bergonié, Bordeaux, France.
Department of Radiology, Centre François Baclesse, Caen, France.
Centre de Radiologie, Nancy, France.
Department of Radiology, Institut Curie, Paris, France.
Centre d'Imagerie Majorelle, Nancy, France.



Many women dread undergoing mammography, and some may not attend or reattend breast cancer screening because of the discomfort or pain induced by breast compression.


To evaluate the noninferiority of the self-compression mammography technique for reducing breast thickness compared with standard compression.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

This prospective, parallel-group, noninferiority randomized clinical trial was conducted from May 7, 2013, to October 26, 2015, at 6 cancer care centers in France. Participants were women aged 50 to 75 years, without a history of recent breast surgical procedure or treatment, and who could perform self-compression. Analyses were performed on intention-to-treat basis from January 27, 2017, to March 30, 2018.


Patients were randomized 1:1 to the self-compression group or the standard compression group.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Primary end point was breast thickness expressed as the mean of 4 views: right and left craniocaudal and right and left mediolateral oblique. The predefined noninferiority margin was a difference of 3 mm, with a 1-sided 95% CI. Secondary end points included compression force, image quality, requirement for additional views, pain, and patient satisfaction and radiographer assessment questionnaires.


Among the 549 women randomized, 548 (97.3%) completed the trial. Of these, 275 (48.8%) (mean [SD] age, 61.35 [6.34] years) were randomized to the self-compression arm and 273 (48.5%) (mean [SD] age, 60.84 [6.41] years) to the standard compression arm. The difference in the mean thickness between the 2 arms was lower than the noninferiority margin, with an upper 1-sided 95% CI less than 3 mm (-0.17; 95% CI,-∞ to 1.89 mm; P < .05). Compression force was higher in the self-compression group compared with the standard compression arm for the 4 mammographic views. Pain was statistically significantly lower in the self-compression group (n = 274) compared with the standard compression group (n = 269) (median [interquartile range (IQR)] score, 2 [1-5] vs 3 [1-5]; P = .009). No difference was reported in the image quality scores of the 2 groups or in the number of additional views performed (median [IQR] extra views, 2 [2-2] vs 2 [2-3] extra views; P = .64), whatever the indication, including insufficient image quality (29 [16.8%] vs 27 [15.0%] insufficient quality views; P = .65). No adverse effects or pain were reported by the participants after the self-compression mammography.

Conclusions and Relevance:

Self-compression does not appear to be inferior to standard compression mammography in achieving minimal breast thickness without increasing pain or compromising image quality; this technique may be an effective option for women who want to be involved in their breast examination.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT02866591.

[Available on 2020-02-04]

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