Should breast pain cause me to be concerned about breast cancer?

Breast pain is the most common breast related complaint among women. Nearly 70% of women experience it at some point in their lives and approximately 15% of women require treatment. Breast pain may occur in one or both breasts or in the underarm region of the body. Usually, breast pain does not indicate breast cancer, though women should discuss the condition with their physician.

The two main types of breast pain are:

  • Cyclical breast pain – this type of breast pain is typically related to the menstrual cycle, although stress and physical activity may also be an influence. If breast pain is accompanied by lumpiness, cysts or areas of thickness, the condition is called fibrocystic change.
  • Non-cyclical breast pain: Far less common than cyclical breast pain, non-cyclical breast pain is when women experience pain in one specific area of the breast(s), typically due to injury, trauma, and sometimes biopsy. This type is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 50.

Factors that may contribute to breast pain:

  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Weight gain
  • Bras that do not fit properly
  • Tumors
  • Breastfeeding

Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Pain

Women should report all complaints of persistent breast pain to their physician for evaluation. If no breast abnormality is indicated, the physician and woman should decide whether medical treatment is necessary. Most women with moderate breast pain are not treated with medication or surgical procedures. Treatment for breast pain may include:

  • Wearing a supportive bra
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Maintaining a low fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Maintaining an ideal weight
  • Occasional over-the-counter medications such as aspirin
  • Taking Vitamin E, B6, niacin or other vitamins
  • Evening of primrose oil
  • Cyst aspiration
  • Relaxation techniques

Posted in Breast Cancer Detection Guidelines, Screening Mammography, Uncategorized


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