A more comfortable mammogram? Yes, plus other new state-of-the-art breast cancer screening tools

Woman getting mammogram at UChicago Medicine River East location

Mammograms with curved compression surfaces. A faster and less expensive breast MRI. Artificial intelligence (AI)-aided tumor detection. A quick biopsy performed as a patient sits up in a chair.

These are among advances on the horizon or already in use at the University of Chicago Medicine. The academic health system recently expanded its breast imaging services, adding state-of-the-art technologies to improve accuracy, comfort and convenience.

UChicago Medicine, already known nationwide for breast cancer expertise, is also progressing with the latest technology and industry-leading clinical trials for new breast cancer screening tools.

One in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer. The American Cancer Society expects about 300,000 new cases in 2023, and more than 43,000 women and 500 men will die from the disease — making early detection critically important. 

Breast-shaped Compression Surface

SmartCurve breast-shaped mammogram paddle
SmartCurve breast-shaped compression panels make mammograms more comfortable.

Yearly mammograms are recommended for women starting at age 40. Yet many women avoid them because the procedure is painful. Each breast is tightly pressed between two flat panels to scan for potential tumors.

To make the exam more comfortable, UChicago Medicine has SmartCurve, a system with a curved, breast-shaped compression surface that reduces pinching and pressure. SmartCurve is integrated with 3D technology to deliver a more accurate mammogram as well.

UChicago Medicine upgraded all of its mammography machines to high-tech 3D models and added SmartCurve paddles to most of them. The mammograms are available at:

Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine (DCAM) in Hyde Park 
UChicago Medicine Orland Park
UChicago Medicine River East
UChicago Medicine at Ingalls - Calumet City
UChicago Medicine at Ingalls - Flossmoor
UChicago Medicine at Ingalls Memorial - Harvey
UChicago Medicine at Ingalls - Tinley Park

Upright AFFIRM biopsy system

A faster, less intimidating system is now used for breast biopsies. Hologic’s AFFIRM biopsy system allows patients to sit upright in a chair as a high-tech machine is centered over the breast, calculating the precise spot where the needle needs to be inserted. 

AFFIRM cuts test times in half, to about 15 to 30 minutes. Plus, physicians say, the whole procedure is easier and more comfortable for patients. AFFIRM is available at:

Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine (DCAM) in Hyde Park 
UChicago Medicine Orland Park
UChicago Medicine River East
UChicago Medicine at Ingalls Memorial - Harvey
UChicago Medicine at Ingalls - Tinley Park


This localization device – roughly the size of a grain of rice — is inserted into the breast to help surgeons precisely locate masses and tumors. The wireless, nonradioactive technology allows tumors to be removed with smaller incisions. 

SAVI SCOUT limits the amount of healthy breast tissue removed and increases the probability of complete tumor excisions.  It is in use at all UChicago Medicine locations.

Ultrafast Abbreviated MRI 

Ultrafast Abbreviated MRI is a revolutionary technology developed by UChicago Medicine’s Hiroyuki Abe, MD, PhD, Gregory Karczmar, PhD and colleagues. The system scans the breast every three seconds for about 10 minutes, completing the MRI in a fraction of the time (and at a lower cost) than a conventional MRI. 

The high-tech scan provides detailed information on blood flow and capillary permeability, which are important markers for cancer. The clear images allow physicians to detect small cancers at an earlier, more curable stage.

Blood vessel tracking combined with tissue perfusion in ultrafast abbreviated MRI

The scanner is proving to be a reliable screening tool for high-risk patients, including women with dense breasts. The data acquired from Ultrafast Abbreviated MRI’s government-funded clinical trials at UChicago Medicine soon will be incorporated into large national trials. The work is supported by the Segal Family Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center.


UChicago Medicine has partnered with University of California medical researchers for WISDOM, a national study designed to compare  approaches to breast cancer screenings and prevention strategies.

We want to learn how best to screen people so we don’t over-diagnose and we don’t miss the cancers.
Women enrolled in the WISDOM study's personalized screening schedule submit family/medical history and saliva samples for genetic testing of nine genes associated with increased breast cancer risk. The results will help determine whether a woman needs a mammogram every other year or more frequent mammograms supplemented with MRIs.

"One size doesn't fit all when it comes to screenings, so we test all the genetic variants to see what puts some women at very high risk and some women at low risk," said UChicago Medicine breast cancer geneticist Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, co-leading the study. "We want to learn how best to screen people so we don’t over-diagnose and we don’t miss the cancers."

Learn more and sign up at Orland Park and River East, to be more calming, less clinical, and more comfortable. The suites have earthy paint colors, soft lighting, home-like seating and spacious dressing rooms. 

During breast ultrasounds, patients can connect their phones to the treatment room’s Bluetooth speaker and listen to their choice of music or podcast.

medical oncologist Olwen Hahn, MD

Breast Cancer Care

Our team represents expertise across the spectrum of breast cancer care: breast imaging, breast surgery, medical and radiation oncology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, lymphedema treatment, clinical genetics, pathology and nursing. Our comprehensive care approach optimizes chances of survival and quality of life. 

Learn more about UChicago Medicine breast cancer care.

Convenient Locations for Breast Cancer Screening Mammography

Breast Cancer Screening - Annual vs Personalized

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Breast Cancer Screening - Annual vs Personalized

A longstanding debate has stymied the medical community about when and how often women should be screened for breast cancer. The WISDOM study will assess whether personalized screening is as safe, effective and accepted compared to annual screening.
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