Breast pain (mastalgia) is the most common breast related complaint among women; nearly 70% of women experience breast pain at some point in their lives. Breast pain may occur in one or both breasts or in the underarm (axilla) region of the body. The severity of breast pain varies from woman to woman; approximately 15% of women require treatment. Though breast pain is not normally associated with breast cancer, women who experience any breast abnormalities, including breast pain, should consult their physicians.
It may come and go with monthly periods (cyclic) or may not follow any pattern (noncyclic).
1. Cyclic pain is the most common type of breast pain. It may be caused by the normal monthly changes in hormones. This pain usually occurs in both breasts. It is generally described as a heaviness or soreness that radiates to the armpit and arm. The pain is usually most severe before a menstrual period and is often relieved when a period ends. Cyclic breast pain occurs more often in younger women. Most cyclic pain goes away without treatment and usually disappears at menopause.
2. Noncyclic pain is most common in women 30 to 50 years of age. It may occur in only one breast. It is often described as a sharp, burning pain that occurs in one area of a breast. Occasionally, noncyclic pain may be caused by a fibroadenoma or a cyst. If the cause of noncyclic pain can be found, treating the cause may relieve the pain.
Breast pain can get worse with changes in your hormone levels or changes in the medicines you are taking. Stress can also affect breast pain.
Breast pain is not a common symptom of breast cancer. But in some cases painful lumps are caused by breast cancer.
If breast pain becomes severe or lasts longer than 3 weeks, call your doctor to discuss your symptoms.