Breast pain commonly affects women of all age.1 At times, breast pains are confused with breast cancer. Yes, it’s true that breast pains caused due to the formation of lumps and inflammation in breasts can be a sign of breast cancer.2 While others type of breast pains that do not cause cancer could be due to your medication, ill-fitting bra, and breast lumps due to non-cancerous cysts and/or fibrosis.3
Globally, it is estimated that over 65% of women suffer from some breast pain at least once in their lifetime.4
Let’s have a look at 9 types of breast pain that are not related to breast cancer:
1. Cyclic Breast Pain
The cyclic pain is commonly associated with the menstrual cycles.5 This pain is mainly due to changes in the estrogen and progesterone hormone levels and worsens around 2 weeks before the period. Cyclic breast pain mainly affects women over 20 years and less than 40 years of age.
2. Non-Cyclic Breast Pain
The non-cyclic breast pain is also referred to as the “target-zone” breast pain as you will feel this pain at one specific part of the breast.6 This pain can be felt in one breast or both the breasts and may not have any monthly pattern. Non-cyclic breast pain could be due to breast injury, infection, stress or anxiety and is not known to cause any cancer. It is usually common in women over 40 years and less than 50 years of age.
3. Pain Due To Poorly Fitted Bra
Wearing too loose or too tight bras can affect your breast health adversely.7 A poorly fitted bra will leave your breasts unsupported throughout the day and in addition to giving you breast pain, you may also suffer from skin rashes, neck pain, and back pain.
4. Breast Pain Due To Surgery
If you ever underwent breast surgery then you have high chances of suffering from breast pain. You may get these breast pains a few days after the surgery or even after a few years. The breast pain due to surgery is known to stay for a very long time, it can affect your daily life, however, it may not cause any cancer.8
5. Usage Of Medicines
If you are taking medications, then you may suffer from breast pain. Medicines such as Chlorpromazine, Anadrol, and Methyldopa may cause breast pain.9 Birth control pills are known to cause breast pain too.10
6. Fibrocystic Breast Tissue
This breast pain is due to the development of lumpiness in one or both the breasts. These lumps filled with fluid cysts tend to become soft just before your menstrual period. Women undergoing treatment for postmenopausal hormone have high chances of getting this breast pain.
7. Formation Of Breast Cysts
Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the breasts. These sacs are non-cancerous (benign) in nature.11 Breast cysts enlarge during the menstrual cycle and they may or may not cause breast pain. Breast cysts should not worry you as they generally disappear after menopause is reached.12
8. Breast Arthritis
Arthritis in the breasts can sound odd, but you may be having costochondritis which is a type of arthritis. It may cause a burning sensation at the point where ribs join the breastbone.13 Costochondritis can occur due to poor physical posture, it is very common in older women.
Mastitis is common in breastfeeding women, it is usually caused when the milk duct doesn’t drain properly leading to infection.14 Mastitis can be painful, you may have a burning sensation and may even have nipple discharge containing traces of blood.
- All breast pain may not lead to cancer, however, to rule it out seek medical advice.
|↑1||Breast pain. Breast Cancer Care.|
|↑2||Breast Cancer Symptoms: What You Need to Know. American Cancer Society.|
|↑3||Fibrosis and Simple Cysts in the Breast. American Cancer Society.|
|↑4||Santen, Richard J. “Benign breast disease in women.” (2014).|
|↑5||Mastalgia (Breast Pain). The Johns Hopkins University.|
|↑6||Kneece, J. (2003). Finding a lump in your breast. Where to go…what to do (2nd ed.). Columbia: EduCare Inc.|
|↑7||Breast Pain. The Johns Hopkins University.|
|↑8||Brummett, Chad M. “Chronic pain following breast surgery.” Techniques in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management 15, no. 3 (2011): 124-132.|
|↑9||Breast Pain. National Breast Cancer Foundation.|
|↑10||Van Vliet, Huib AAM, Marjolein Raps, Laureen M. Lopez, and Frans M. Helmerhorst. “Quadriphasic versus monophasic oral contraceptives for contraception.” The Cochrane Library (2011).|
|↑11||Breast Cyst. National Breast Cancer Foundation.|
|↑12||Breast cysts. Breast Cancer Care.|
|↑13||Breast pain: Not just a premenopausal complaint. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑14||Mastitis. National Health Service (NHS).|