Not every pain that occurs in the breast is a sign of cancer and to be clear usually breast pain isn’t a sign. There could be many reasons for breast pain unless diagnosed one should not come to any conclusion. Having an idea about, is pain in the breast a sign of cancer and what causes breast pain will save you from unwanted worries.
What Is Breast Pain?
Breast pain or clinically known as mastalgia is a common problem among women and it can be either cyclical or non cyclical. Mastalgia is associated with sharp burning pain, tightness of the breast tissue or breast tenderness.
The signs can be anything from severe to mild. Although aged women experience breast pain it is more common in young women. For a few women breast pain in pregnancy is also normal due to hormonal changes. It may occur even due to the menstrual cycle.
The pain can range from mild to severe and most of the pains don’t signal cancerous condition unless you experience breast pain with lump even this isn’t a sign of cancer always. You need to worry if it is continuous and is recurring.
What Causes Breast Pain?
It is not possible to attribute to a single condition and the causes include more than one as mentioned below.
- Reproductive hormones are the cause of cyclic breast pain. This type of pain usually disappears or decreases with menopause or pregnancy.
- Breast structure is the cause of noncyclic breast pain and is the result of changes that happen in the milk glands or milk ducts. It can as well develop breast cysts.
- Fatty acid imbalance within the cells might affect the breast’s sensitivity leading to pain.
- Few medicines such as oral birth control pills and infertility treatments may cause pain.
- Breast size also is one of the causes, generally, women with larger breasts may go through noncyclic breast pain.
- Breast surgery may at times lead to this situation for some time.
- Breast pain when feeding is also common and it happens due to various reasons such as Mastitis, engorgement and improper latch.
Symptoms Of Breast Pain
Symptoms are classified as cyclic and noncyclic and each of these has varied symptoms.
|Cyclic Breast Pain||Noncyclic Breast Pain|
|Linked to the menstrual cycle||Not related to the menstrual cycle|
|Aching that’s dull or heavy||tight, sore or burning sensation|
|Usually associated with lumpiness or swelling of the breast||Constant or irregular|
|Generally affects both breasts, importantly the outer and upper portions and can pass to the underarm||Generally one breast is affected but could spread across the breast|
|Increases during the 2 weeks and can be present till the beginning of the period after which it subdues||Usually affects women after menopause|
|Usually affects women in 20s and 30s prior to menopause besides women in 40s|
Is Pain In The Breast A Sign Of Cancer?
Usually, breast pain is not linked to breast cancer. Fibrocystic breasts or breast pain doesn’t indicate one has the risk of getting cancer. But, lumpy tissue might make it difficult to observe tumours on a mammogram.
If there’s breast pain that’s localized only in one region and is consistent throughout the month without changes in pain intensity consult your doctor who may use mammogram, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or biopsy to determine further. Based on these tests a doctor may decide if the pain is due to cancer or not.
When To Worry About Breast Pain?
Usually, breast pain isn’t a cause of worry but when there’s a lump in the breast associated with pain that doesn’t go off even after a period then you should take it seriously. If there is swelling, redness, infection signs, nipple discharge then consult your doctor. Also, keep an eye if the pain is not linked to the menstrual cycle and is present for 2 weeks or more in one particular region.
Preventions Tips For Breast Pain
Here are the tips to follow so that you don’t run through breast pain;
- Give up smoking
- Limit alcohol
- Keep weight in control
- Be active physically
- Stay away from radiation pollution
- Limit duration and the dose of hormone therapy
When To See A Doctor?
If the pain is sudden and comes with chest pain, numbness and tingling seek medical attention. The other instances where you should see a doctor is.
- Pain is obstructing daily activities
- Pain is more than 2 weeks
- Pain is associated with lump
- Pain is present in one area
- Pain worsens with time
Remember not every pain is a sign of cancer and stop worrying and asking yourself is a pain in the breast a sign of cancer. Instead of worrying, diagnose the cause and be peaceful.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.