Virtually every woman on this earth has experienced pain caused by her breasts. Breast pains—mastalgia is the medical term for it—are grouped within 2 categories. Cyclic mastalgia may come and go with the woman's monthly periods, whereas noncyclic mastalgia might not follow any pattern.
As hormones rise and fall during the month in response to ovulation and menstruation, the breasts can become quite tender. These pains accompanying hormonal changes are the most common form of breast pain that a woman will experience during her life. A woman can have cyclic pain like this for years, with the pain usually being most severe before a menstrual period and getting better when a period ends. The pain is usually felt in both breasts and is generally described as a heaviness or soreness. Cyclic pain can even radiate into the armpit area. Young women usually complain about this type of cyclic breast pain more than do women who are a bit older. This type of breast pain is also common during pregnancy and when lactation begins.
This type of breast pain is common in women ages 30 to 50 years, while being rare after menopause, It might occur in only one breast, and is often described as a sharp, burning pain centered on one area of a breast. Noncyclic pain is sometimes associated with a benign tumor called a fibroadenoma, or with a benign cyst. If the cause of noncyclic pain can be identified, treating the cause will usually take the pain away.
Breast Pain Can Sometimes Be Severe
Serious breast pain might be caused by a breast abscess, which will warrant incision and drainage.
Pain Associated with Medications
Breast pain can also occur while taking certain medications, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or when coming off of such medications.
90 percent of breast pain is not due to cancer.
If you experience breast pain, please don’t assume the cause is cancer. Only 10 percent of breast cancers are associated with any breast pain.