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Breast pain is very anxiety provoking for women, but it is rarely a sign of breast cancer. More commonly, this breast abnormality indicates you are having hormonal changes. Only about 10 percent of breast cancers are accompanied by pain.
Breast pain and tenderness can be a very normal part of a woman's life. Breast pain can occur when you:
Breastfeed a baby Have breast cysts Are about to menstruate, or just after a period Are premenopausal Are pregnant Are going on or off of hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
You can also experience breast pain if your bra is either too tight or too loose. Your breast tissue does not enough support throughout the day in a bra that is the wrong size. Make sure to have your bras properly fitted so you wear the correct size.
If you continue to have breast soreness, accompanied by any other potential symptoms of breast cancer we strongly recommend you be evaluated by a breast specialist. Breast cancer symptoms include:
Lump in the breast Thickening of the breast skin Rash or redness of the breast Breast swelling New onset of breast pain, not associated with the symptoms above Dimpling around the nipple or on the breast skin Nipple pain or nipple turning inward Nipple discharge, or liquid that leaks out of the nipple Lumps in the underarm area Changes in the appearance of the nipple or breast that are different from the normal monthly changes women can experience
Breast pain is a common complaint and often leads to concern about breast cancer. Breast cancer rarely presents with breast pain. Breast pain is the most common breast related complaint we see. Breast pain affects at least 70% of women, and up to 15% of women will consider it life threatening. At least 85% of women with breast pain that is mild to moderate can be successfully treated with only reassurance that it is not breast cancer. The cause of breast pain is unknown, but it is felt to be hormonally related. Unfortunately there is no really good treatment for breast pain.
Breast pain can be a symptom of breast cancer, but most breast pain is not caused by cancer. In fact, the vast majority of pains in the breast are not caused by cancer. And, when we look at large groups of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, most do not have pain. So, we can conclude the following:
- Most breast pain is not from cancer
- Most breast cancers do not hurt
But since some pain IS caused by cancer and some cancers DO hurt, any new breast pain should be reported to your doctor so he/she can thoroughly assess the situation to determine the cause of the pain and make sure there is not a cancer.
Breast pain is usually not a sign of breast cancer, but can be a sign of a health problem. Changes within the breast, including pain, should be evaluated by your primary care physician.
Breast pain can be a sign of breast cancer, however, less than 10% of cancers of the breast are associated with pain. Whenever a patient has pain or tenderness in the breast, it is important that this be evaluated by a physician and diagnostic testing should be performed which may include ultrasound, mammograms or MRIs. If the patient has a strong family history of breast cancer, mother, aunt or sister and a lump is detected, then the mass should be biopsied.
You can never say never, but in general, breast pain is rarely a sign or symptom of breast cancer. Breast pain is usually just physiologic, and almost every woman experiences it at some point. It could be from causes such as the swelling before menstruation, inflammation of the joint between the ribs and the sternum, infection or the development of cysts.
Breast pain can be associated with breast cancer. If the pain is severe, or associated with redness or swelling in the breast or dimpling of the skin, it could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). This type of breast cancer is very rare, but also very serious. It needs to be detected and treated immediately, so if you have these symptoms, see a doctor right away!
Breast pain that comes and goes is usually from hormonal changes associated with menstruation. You should let your doctor know so he or she can perform a thorough breast examination and order any additional tests needed.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.