Many women have breast pain (mastalgia) at some time. Breast pain is usually associated with a benign breast condition; it is rarely a sign of breast cancer. However, breast pain should be checked by a doctor, especially if a woman has new pain or pain that doesn’t go away.
There are 2 types of breast pain:
Pain occurring in the muscles and other tissues under the breast (chest wall) can be mistaken for breast pain. A burning or stabbing pain in one area may be chest wall pain.
The cause of breast pain is not well understood. Since cyclical breast pain occurs around a woman’s menstrual cycle, it may be related to the changes of hormones during the menstrual cycle.
Women taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)hormone replacement therapy (HRT)Treatment that replaces female sex hormones ( estrogen, progesterone or both) when they are no longer produced by the ovaries. after menopause often have breast pain.
Other causes of breast pain may include:
Pain may be felt in one or both breasts, or just in part of one breast. Pain may also be felt in the armpit or upper arm.
Breast pain may be described as:
If the signs and symptoms of breast pain are present, or if the doctor suspects an underlying cause of breast pain, tests will be done to make a diagnosis. Tests may include:
Breast pain may go away on its own, especially if it is related to menstrual periods. Treatment options for breast pain depend on its cause.
Treatment for breast cysts or lumps may include:
Supportive therapy treats the symptoms of breast pain, but it does not treat the underlying cause of the breast pain. Supportive care options for breast pain may include:
If supportive care measures do not relieve the pain, or if the pain is severe, other treatment options may be offered.
While research has not shown that the following treatments are effective, some women may chose to:
A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.