Breast pain is very common. It has been shown to affect over 70% of women at some point in their lives and can change in frequency and severity throughout life. Breast pain can occur at any time throughout a women's adult life, however it is usually less frequent in later years. Reassuringly, breast pain is rarely associated with breast cancer.
Please note that the information on this page can be found in the “Guernsey Breast Unit Breast Pain” leaflet, copies of which are available from the Breast Unit. The leaflet is reproduced here by permission of the Health and Social Services Department of the Guernsey Government.
Breast pain is very common. It has been shown to affect over 70% of women at some point in their lives and can change in frequency and severity throughout life.
Breast pain can occur at any time throughout a women's adult life, however it is usually less frequent in later years.
Reassuringly, breast pain is rarely associated with breast cancer.
Cyclical breast pain
Fullness, tenderness and mild discomfort are symptoms often experienced by women in the week prior to a period. The reasons are not fully understood but possibly include:-
- Changing hormone levels
- Water retention
- Low levels of essential fatty acids
- Non-cyclical breast pain
This type of pain is less common but more difficult to treat. It can be classified as true breast pain, pain coming from the chest wall and pain referred from elsewhere, usually the back, neck or shoulders.
It is first necessary to determine whether the breast pain is cyclical or non-cyclical. This can be done by completing a daily breast pain chart over the course of a month.
Most breast pain can be self-managed using simple measures that are easily implemented. Often no specific treatment is needed.
These first line measures can be tried before referral to a Breast Clinic.
Be aware that breast pain is extremely common and can change in frequency and severity throughout life.
See Amendment Overleaf
Evening primrose oil is effective in up to 60% of women with cyclical breast pain. It needs to be taken for six to eight weeks, to achieve a therapeutic dose and can be prescribed by your family doctor or Consultant Breast Surgeon.
A woman may require treatment for breast pain if pain persists for more than seven days in a month, persisting for more than three months. In this instance, a referral should be made by your GP to the Breast Specialist at the local Breast Unit.
Amendment - 07.10.2002
Following a review of current available research, the Medicines Control Agency has found no evidence to support the use of Evening Primrose Oil as a treatment for breast pain or other illnesses.
It has been reclassified as a foodstuff and will no longer be available on prescription.
5 point code
- Know what is normal for you
- Look and feel
- Know what changes to look for
- Report any changes without delay
- Attend for breast screening if aged 50 or over
Breast Screening Service
A free and confidential service is available for women over 50 years.
If you are eligible and have not attended, please ask for information.
Guernsey Breast Clinic
Princess Elizabeth Hospital
Publication Date July, 2002
Review Date July 2004
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