Mammogram clinic that seems more like a spa - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mammogram clinic that seems more like a spa

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - For many women, getting a mammogram can be a frightening experience, and for some it's something they avoid doing altogether. Sharp Rees-Stealy is working to transform the procedure into some much more soothing by appealing to the patient's senses.

Tranquil and calming are not typically words you would use to describe your mammogram experience.

"When you come in, you're really apprehensive and really fear the worst," one patient said.

But inside one exam room at Sharp Rees-Stealy's Breast Imaging Center, there's a sense of serenity.

"Everything was real relaxing. You had something to look at this time, instead of the blank wall," a patient said.

Director of Radiology Christopher Hayman explains by using a tablet as the remote, patients can choose to be surrounded by a garden, waterfall or the ocean.

"This is designed to give a better patient experience," Hayman said.

Sharp Rees-Stealy is the first medical group in California to ride this new wave in mammography.

"We know that early detection of breast cancer will save lives," Dr. Steve Rindsberg of the Sharp Rees-Stealy Radiology Department said.

And that is the ultimate goal. Statistics reveal that 1 in 4 women do not undergo their annual mammogram because of a fear of discomfort and anxiety. General Electric Healthcare's Sensory Suite hopes to change that.

"Studies have shown that people who have their mammogram in the sensory suite have less anxiety and perceived less discomfort, and they are more than likely to come back again in the future to have a mammogram," Rindsberg said.

In fact, they found 64 percent felt less discomfort, and 99 percent said they would come back.

Given the opportunity to see if I noticed the difference, I tested out the Sensory Suite, which hits your three senses, of sight, sound and smell, adding a little aromatherapy to the mix.

Focused on the ocean, I felt very little discomfort, and no pain at all.

If you would like to try out the Sensory Suite, Sharp Rees-Stealy has two locations -- one in Mira Mesa and one downtown. When you call, you can request the suite, but you might have to wait a little longer to get an appointment, so make sure you schedule it well in advance.

There's no extra fee to use the Sensory Suite.

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