Mastalgia: Benign Breast Pain
Many women experience mastalgia—breast pain that is not of cancerous origin. Breast pain and tenderness may be a routine part of their monthly menstrual cycle. But if the pain seems unbearable, or occurs during mid-cycle, it may be time to take action.
When faced with breast pain on a monthly basis, some women suspect the worst and immediately think cancer. Others simply accept the pain as a burden. But neither scenario is necessarily correct. Any persistent, sudden, or severe breast pain warrants a visit to your doctor to rule out a serious illness. If nothing is found, which is often the case, your doctor can work with you to discover the real cause of your discomfort and find a suitable remedy.
Your doctor may not seem overly concerned when you report pain in your breasts. In fact, most breast pain is caused by problems that are not life-threatening, and only a small percent of diagnosed breast cancers present with pain as a symptom. Physical exam of the breast is usually the first step in a diagnosis. If the physical exam is normal, your doctor will make a decision about whether testing, such as mammography or ultrasound studies are needed.
You will be taught to determine whether your pain is cyclic or noncyclic. Keeping a daily chart of breast changes and pain can help you understand your body's changes and what might be causing the pain. Cyclic and noncyclic pain can be caused by a wide array of factors and sometimes can be reduced by changing your diet or medication.
Last reviewedMarch 2013by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.