Diana I am in my mid 40’s and want to ask your advice because I know you have experienced breast cancer. I am having a lot of pain in my breasts and am worried it might be the big C. What should I do?
Breast pain (mastalgia) affects around two-thirds of UK women between the age of 30 and 50. Most cases are relatively mild and the result of normal changes occurring in the breasts, but many women are anxious they may have breast cancer. However breast pain doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer.
Cyclical breast pain is linked to the menstrual cycle and changes in hormone levels before periods PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), but some menopausal women going through peri-menopause experience breast pain when hormonal changes take place. Non-cyclical breast pain is unrelated to the menstrual cycle but sometimes caused by mastitis, a condition related to breastfeeding, or a breast abscess, where pus forms in the breast, or non-cancerous (benign) breast lumps, some of which may be painful.
If you notice breast changes like a lump or thickened tissue, a sunken nipple or discharge from nipple, swelling or pain in armpits, changes in size or shape of breast, or dimpled breast skin talk to your GP, who may refer you to a specialist. Many women can live with their breast pain once reassured it’s not breast cancer. The pain can usually be dealt with by over-the-counter painkillers and gels, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.