Breast Pain

What Causes Breast Pain?

Breast pain can have various causes, just like most other symptoms.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose breast pain, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "breast pain" as a symptom.  For example, breast cancer.

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
breast cancer in family members
whitish nipple discharge
early puberty onset
non-human estrogen use
low aerobic exercise level
single-pore nipple discharge
bloodstained nipple discharge
moderate alcohol consumption
breast cancer in mother
current birth control pill use
extended bra wearing
frequent swollen axillary nodes
... and so on

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of breast pain.

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Female-Specific Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about breast pain:
Are you currently experiencing breast tenderness, soreness or swelling that is not associated with your menstrual cycle? If it is related to your cycle, answer the question that comes later.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know / it is related to my cycle
→ No
→ Yes, slight, for under 1 month
→ Yes, severe, for under 1 month
→ Yes, for over 1 month
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate not having non-cyclical breast pain, recent non-cyclical breast pain or chronic non-cyclical breast pain, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as Breast Cancer.  Many women with breast pain worry that it might be breast cancer.  This is very unlikely.  Breast pain is very common – about 70% of women have it at some time.  Doctors at the Edinburgh Breast Unit have looked at the medical records of more than 8,500 women who attended the Unit simply because of breast pain.  They found that less than 3% of these women – whose breast pain was probably quite severe – had breast cancer.  Breast cancer is extremely unlikely if your only symptom is pain that varies with the menstrual cycle, or if both breasts are affected.
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