Is Breast Pain A Sign Of Breast Cancer?
Source: Open Talk Magazine 01/03/2011 20:29:00
Breast pain is a common occurrence affecting millions of women, for at least a time period each month. For some, the pain is constant and unrelenting—seriously reducing their quality of life. For others the pain is intermittent, or lasts for only a few days out of every month, and is manageable to the extent that it does not interfere with their day to day lives.
Many women feel their pain is not taken seriously by medical professions who in turn diagnose the pain as a normal occurrence. Most women are unsure of the cause or what to do to ease the pain and some fear the pain to be a sign of cancer. If you suffer from breast pain, read on and you may gain some understanding of the causes and some things you can do that can help ease the pain.
Types of Breast Pain
Medical names for breast pain include: mastodynia, mastalgia or mammalgia and are split into two categories: cyclical and non cyclical breast pain. These are both caused by different things and the treatment also varies between the two. Medical studies show that for every three cases of breast pain, two are caused by cyclical reasons.
Cyclical Breast Pain
I've Cyclical breast pain means the pain is related to your menstrual cycle. The pain tends to worsen the week before your menstrual cycle; although some women feel slight tenderness two weeks before their menstrual cycle. Breast pain of this type is usually accompanied by a general unevenness and lumpiness in the breast and eases once your menstrual cycle starts. Cyclical breast pain is thought to be caused by breast tissue being particularly sensitive to normal hormonal changes in the body.
Treatment for Cyclical Breast Pain
If the pain is mild, then no treatment is usually required. For those who suffer more intense pain, there are a number of things you can do:
- Wearing a supportive bra can be very beneficial. You may find that you need to wear it for 24 hours around the time the pain is at its worse.
- Over the counter painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs(Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Naproxen can be beneficial. Research has also suggested that Ibuprofen or Diclofenac gels rubbed gently into the area can ease symptoms.
- Some women have reported that reducing caffeine, red wine and chocolate seem to ease symptoms, as well as increasing the consumption of Vitamin E. However, there is no solid evidence pointing towards the usefulness of such treatments,
- For women who find no relief from the above treatments, and whose daily lives are significantly affected by breast pain, there are treatments such as Danazol, Bromocriptine and Tamoxifen that work by blocking the effect of oestrogen on the breasts. These treatments have significant side effects, so great consideration is advised and these treatments should only be taken under a doctor’s care.
Causes and Treatment of Non Cyclical Breast Pain
Non cyclical breast pain is pain that is not related to your menstrual cycle. It can vary in intensity from mild to extremely severe—greatly affecting your quality of life. There are a number of causes, and in some cases, the cause is simply unexplainable.
Non cyclical breast pain is usually described as a burning, stabbing or drawing sensation. The main causes of non cyclical breast pain are scar tissue from a previous operation in the breast causing what is known as fat necrosis or damaged fatty tissue—which can be extremely painful. Problems with the milk ducts, whether through infection or change can cause thickening of the breast tissue leading to pain. Cysts are another cause of non cyclical pain, especially if they become infected.
One common cause of breast pain doesn’t actually come from the breast itself, but from damage to the muscle and bone structure underneath the breast. This type is one of the more difficult to deal with as breathing induces pain, and to relieve the pain, one will need to either reside from breathing or breath very slowly and softly in order to rest the chest wall. Unfortunately, resting the chest wall is nearly impossible due to the need to breathe; leaving victims with a frustratingly chronic and painful condition, therefore, painkillers and tolerance are the best options for treatment.
In some cases local anaesthetic and steroid injections can be used to treat specific problem areas. Treatment of other causes of non cyclical pain can vary from antibiotics for infected cysts and inflamed milk ducts, to more specialized treatments, depending on the source of the pain. It’s best to reach out to a specialist for the best available options.
Is Breast Pain a Sign of Breast Cancer?
Many women become concerned when they experience pain in their breast that it may be a sign of breast cancer. Pain is not a common initial sign of breast cancer, however if you experience any lumps, swelling, redness, puckering or discharge from your breast; you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. In fact if you have any concerns about your breasts, you should always consult your doctor.