Breast Pain

What Causes Breast Pain?

Breast pain can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'life-threatening' to 'generally fatal'.  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.  Here are two possibilities:
  • Ectopic Pregnancy
  • 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:
bloodstained nipple discharge
occasional unexplained vomiting
breast cancer
history of breast cancer
late birth of first child
acute abdominal pain
unexplained missed periods
breast cancer in family members
very early puberty onset
long-term low-carb dieting
discharge from one nipple only
single-pore nipple discharge
... and more than 20 others

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:
Cause Probability Status
Ectopic Pregnancy 91% Confirm
Breast Cancer 61% Possible
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

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.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
Symptom Entry
Symptom Entry
Full Explanations
Optional Doctor Review
Review (optional)
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