Mastalgia and mastodynia are the medical term for breast pain. The majority of breast pain is not related to cancer but to benign causes. Still, all pain needs evaluation, especially if of sudden onset, persistant, recurring or severe.

There are 2 types of breast pain, cyclic and non cyclic. Cyclical pain is usually dull and aches. It varies with the menstrual cycle. Keeping a log of when pain occurs and severity may help to identify if the pain is cyclic. Cyclic breastpain is usually worse after ovualation until menstruation begins. Cyclic pain is almost always non cancerous. Caffeine, high sodium diets, and high fat diets can increase the pain.

Non cyclic pain is also usually from a benign cause. Only about 10% of breast cancers cause breastpain in the early stages. Non cyclic pain can be caused by musculoskeletal injuries such as costochondritis, pinched nerves, breast injury, medications, herbal products, mastitis, engorgement, plugged ducts, breast abscess, and duct irritation.

Solving the Mystery of Breast Pain by Judy C. Kneece, RN, OCN
Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book by Susan M. Love, M.D.

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