Is Breast Pain A Sign Of Cancer
While its understandable for a woman to be concerned that she has breast cancer after feeling pain in that area, its unlikely that pain is an indicator of the condition.
Kazuaki Takabe, MD, PhD, FACS, Clinical Chief of Breast Surgery at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, says only a very small percentage of women, around 1%, will be diagnosed with breast cancer after feeling pain in their breast. It is more common for women who have been diagnosed with cancer to report feeling pain in their breast tissue as they go through treatment, at a rate of about 15% of patients.
Change In Size Shape Or Feel Of Your Breast
A cancer might cause your breast to look bigger or have a different shape than usual, it might feel different.
Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender just before their period.
It can help to be breast aware. This means getting to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts.
Swelling In Or Around Your Breast Collarbone Or Armpit
Swelling in these areas can occur for many reasons but may indicate cancer. Breast swelling can be caused by certain types of breast cancer. Swelling or lumps around your collarbone or armpits can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in those areas. The swelling can occur even before you can feel a lump in your breast. If you have swelling, be sure to let your health care team know as soon as possible.
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Breast Cancer And Shoulder Blade Pain
Some women may feel back pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades before any other sign of breast cancer reveals itself. The discomfort is usually attributed to muscle pain, inflammation of the spine or stretching the tendon and ligaments in the back.
Its important to know that tumors will sometimes develop deep within the breast tissue of the chest and felt in the spine or ribcage. There is also the possibility of metasis, a malignant spreading of the disease to the ribs or spine.
For example, The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports about a patient who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and suffered from a severe back pain.5
The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association reported that metastatic bone disease secondary to breast cancer is a common cause of low back pain. The report stressed the need for further imaging in patients with a history of breast cancer and whose physical examination and plain film radiographs are inconclusive or suspicious.6
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Metastatic Breast Cancer And Pain
Metastatic breast cancer may also cause pain. It could be from a larger tumorthese are often over 2 centimeters in diameteror pain in other regions of the body due to the spread of cancer. If breast cancer spreads to your bones, it may cause bone pain, or back pain with leg weakness. If cancer spreads to your brain, it may cause headaches.
If breast cancer travels to the adrenal glands, you may feel a dull back pain. If your breast cancer spreads to your liver, you could have pain in the upper right part of your abdomen and develop jaundice .
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Recovery From Radiation Therapy
You cant see radiation-induced fibrosis, but you can feel it when you move your arm and find that your motion is restricted.
Radiation-induced fibrosis can cause pain, tightness, and altered sensation, even months or years after your radiation treatments end. Doctors will often recommend a combination of therapeutic approaches to improve strength and mobility.
Sore Breasts Before Your Period
One symptom of premenstrual syndrome is the swelling and tenderness of the breasts. Pain can range in severity, though its usually on the lower end of the spectrum.
What causes it? During the hormonal changes cause by menstruation, oestrogen activates the breast ducts to enlarge and progesterone triggers the milk glands to swell . How can you ease breast pain before your period? If youre finding that over-the-counter painkillers arent working for this cyclical type of breast pain, you should see your GP for more options. Your doctor might recommend diuretics or oral contraceptives to help ease more severe pre-period breast pain.
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Brief Sharp Pains Or Ongoing Duller Pain In A Breast Will Put The Fear Of Cancer In Many Women
Inflammatory breast cancer is much more associated with pain than is the regular kind of breast cancer .
How often does the more typical kind of breast cancer cause pain?Quite rarely most are picked up by screening imaging, as lesions would need to be quite large or located near the chest wall or armpit to cause discomfort, says Mark Levandovsky, MD, Founder and Medical Director of Preventive Medicine and Cancer Care. Dr. Levandovsky is a board certified internist and oncologist/hematologist in practice for 20 years.
So if regular breast cancer rarely causes pain in a breast, this means that there are cases in which the patient experiences pain.
There are certainly women who, prior to their BC diagnosis, were having unexplained pain in the breast where the tumor was eventually found.
In inflammatory BC, the skin of the breast appears inflamed, reddish and may resemble the skin of an orange.
When To Contact A Doctor
If a person experiences breast pain, they should note when it started to occur and any potential triggers that could have caused it.
If a person is experiencing any of the following, they should make an appointment with a healthcare professional:
- unexplained pain that lasts for longer than 2 weeks
- pain that is accompanied by a lump
- pain that is specific to only one area of the breast
- pain that gets worse over time
- intense pain that inhibits oneâs everyday activities
- pain that is accompanied by other changes to breast tissue, such as flushing, inflammation, and irritation
A doctor may recommend a mammogram to provide them with a visual of the breast tissue to detect any lumps or tissue irregularities.
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Burning Feeling In Left Breast And Lump
so since the beginning of the week Ive noticed a sharp burning feeling in my left breast around nipple area. I went to the doctors yesterday who examined my breast and although she said they look normal she can feel a lump.
in only 27 years old shes referred me to the hospital which is on next Thursday. Obviously Im going out of my mind with worry and Im expecting the absolute worst.
I had no idea I had a lump until she told me.
Has anyone else has a similar thing? The burning? I notice it more if I lean in it during sleep it wakes me up with the pain of burning.
Hello Laura896 and welcome to the forum.
Im sorry to hear that youve been referred to breast clinic. We know that lots of ladies here will understand how worrying the wait for that first appointment can be and I hope that some of them will be along to share their experiences with you soon.
Breast pain is very common in women of all ages and having painful, sore or tender breasts can cause a lot of anxiety. But on its own, pain in the breasts isnt usually a sign of breast cancer. I know that your GP has found a small lump try and keep in mind that the majority of women who are seen at breast clinic dont go on to be diagnosed with cancer.
You might find it helpful to talk to one of our nurses before your appointment on Thursday. Im sure that they will be able to give you some information and support. Theyre available on 0808 800 4040 .
Does Breast Cancer Hurt
Not for most patients. Roswell Park sees between 1,100 and 1,300 new breast cancer patients every year. The majority of new cases are found by imaging. Every once in a while, we do hear that a patient feels the tumor and comes in to get it checked out and learn they have cancer. If we see 100 patients who come to Roswell Park because of breast pain, we might find cancer in one case. The odds are slim, but it is a possibility. If you have concerns, I encourage you to a mammogram and get it checked out.
Typical breast cancer, when it is found, also doesnt cause pain. If a tumor grows big enough that you can feel it, it will feel like a rock in your breast tissue. When I teach my medical students, I compare it to a small rock inside tofu. Tofu has a very soft texture. If you have a rock inside that soft tofu, youre going to feel the softness but also the hardness underneath. Cancerous tumors are hard and irregular in size.
After all, that is why women are encouraged to get annual mammograms starting at age 40: a mammogram can detect cancer in the breast tissue years before it becomes big enough to feel.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
- A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple.
- A change in the look or feel of the skin on the breast or nipple .
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
- An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
- A marble-like hardened area under the skin.
These changes may be found when performing monthly breast self-exams. By performing breast self-exams, you can become familiar with the normal monthly changes in your breasts.
Breast self-examination should be performed at the same time each month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. If you have stopped menstruating, perform the exam on the same day of each month.
Pain And Tenderness In The Armpit
According to studies, the first place breast cancer spreads to is the axillary lymph nodes .
The axillary lymph nodes indicate breast cancer in the same way the lymph nodes in the neck and throat indicate a flu, making the axillaries an essential place for onset discovery.
The journal of Clinical Oncology reported about the significance of axillary lymph node metastasis in primary breast cancer saying that axillary lymph node status is the single most important prognostic variable in the management of patients with primary breast cancer.7
The American Cancer Society says that sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt.1 Therefore any pain or discomfort in the left or right armpit is something that should definitely be tested and you should also be aware of the other causes of armpit pain.
The first thing to do is to compare the painful armpit to the other armpit. If the difference is persistently evident, its worth consulting an expert.
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Bone Thinning Bone And Joint Pain
A group of estrogen-blocking breast cancer drugs called aromatase inhibitors may turn your bones more brittle. That may cause bone and joint pain.
Certain types of chemotherapy can also cause bone thinning. If you arenât already in menopause, it may start prematurely.
Breast cancer itself can cause pain if it spreads to your bones. A specialized radiation treatment called radiotherapy can sometimes help. Ask your doctor about other treatment options like pain medications.
Myth : Women With Lumpy Breast Tissue Have Dense Breasts
False. Lumpy breast tissue has nothing to do with breast density, Dr. Pederson says. Your breasts can feel lumpy but not appear dense on a mammogram.
Nearly one in two women have dense breast tissue, indicated by the amount of milk glands and ducts and supportive tissue, which appear solid white on a mammogram. Because cancer can appear the same way, women with dense breasts may choose to have 3D mammography for better cancer detection and fewer false positives. Women at high risk may qualify for MRI screening.
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Comparison With Existing Literature
Previous studies have found cancer detection rates in women referred with breast pain to be 03%.,, These largely have been smaller retrospective cohorts, unclear on the separate analysis of women with breast pain alone or with associated other breast symptoms. A systematic review of the breast pain literature found the quality of evidence relating to breast pain diagnosis and management to be poor. Seven of eight studies in the past 10 years note rates of 00.4% with the small numbers of malignancies seen being in women > 40 years.,, Some suggest that symptoms of non-cyclical focal breast pain may be associated with higher incidence of breast malignancy than other presentations of breast pain. However, this is inconsistent and has not been noted by others. One previous retrospective US study examined health economic costs of evaluating 799 women with breast pain within three breast imaging centres. It is not clear whether their analysis may be applicable within the UK NHS context.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Many women overestimate their risk of developing breast cancer causing themselves unnecessary worry. The cause of breast cancer is still not known, but it is helpful to understand the risk factors.
The most important risk factors for breast cancer are:
- Being female
- One in nine women in New Zealand will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
- One per cent of breast cancer occurs in men.
- More than 3600 women in New Zealand are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
- The cause of breast cancer remains unknown.
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How Much Do Anastrozole And Exemestane Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that both anastrozole and exemestane can lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease.
In one large study, taking anastrozole for five years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 53 percent. In another study, taking exemestane for three years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 65 percent.
The most common side effects seen with anastrazole and exemestane are joint pains, decreased bone density, and symptoms of menopause .
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2018.
Does A Benign Breast Condition Mean That I Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Breast Cancer
Benign breast conditions rarely increase your risk of breast cancer. Some women have biopsies that show a condition called hyperplasia . This condition increases your risk only slightly.
When the biopsy shows hyperplasia and abnormal cells, which is a condition called atypical hyperplasia, your risk of breast cancer increases somewhat more. Atypical hyperplasia occurs in about 5% of benign breast biopsies.
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How Is Lymphedema Diagnosed
There are no tests for lymphedema. Instead, your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and give you a physical exam. Youll be asked about:
Past surgeries youve had
If youve had severe swelling in the past
What medicines youre taking
What other health conditions you have, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes
Imaging tests, measures of volume, blood tests, and other tests may be used to diagnose lymphedema.
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Implications For Research And Practice
Referral of women with breast pain only is not cost-effective and may cause delay for women with higher-risk symptoms. It is an apposite moment to consider more suitable pathways for those women requiring high-quality breast care advice but not a cancer diagnosis service. There is good level II evidence of the value of primary care reassurance and advice as a significant component in the care of women presenting with breast pain alone. This can be reinforced with online resources. Most breast pain is self-limiting and will settle in a matter of weeks or months. In women presenting to primary care with breast pain alone, therefore, deferring referral to secondary care for a period of time may allow spontaneous resolution, averting unnecessary medical intervention for many women without compromising care and enabling more effective use of finite resources.
The findings indicate that women with breast pain alone should be reassured that they have no higher risk of breast cancer than asymptomatic women. They deserve high-quality information and reassurance plus considered advice on how to alleviate their breast pain symptoms. Redirecting women with breast pain alone away from secondary care to more appropriate care pathways will create extra capacity within breast cancer diagnostic clinics for women with true red-flag symptoms that have a clear link to breast malignancy.
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What Medical Treatments Are There For Breast Lumps And Pain
- When your breast pain is severe enough to interfere with your lifestyle and when it occurs for more than a few days each month, you may be treated with medications.
- Before treatment is begun, document the frequency and severity of your pain on a daily basis for at least one to two menstrual cycles.
- This pain diary will also help check your response to treatment.
Why Do My Breasts Hurt
Breast pain is very common in women of all ages.
Having painful, sore or tender breasts can cause a lot of anxiety. But on its own, pain in the breasts isn’t usually a sign of breast cancer.
Many women experience breast pain as part of their normal menstrual cycle . This is called cyclical breast pain.
Lasting pain in the breast thats not related to periods is known as non-cyclical breast pain.
Sometimes pain that feels as though it’s in the breast is coming from somewhere else, such as a pulled muscle in the chest. This is known as chest wall pain.
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