Breast pain is a phenomenon that all women should know how to handle. It contributes to breast un-wellness or mental anxiety when not properly handled. It can also cause a delay in diagnosis and even treatment when breast pain is misinterpreted, specifically, disregarding a mass that is not painful as not worrisome.
With the heightened awareness on breast cancer – it being very common among women and it may affect any woman – and it causing more women to be anxious, any symptoms felt on the breast such as breast pain are now instantaneous triggers for concern, for worry, for seeing a breast specialist, for doing mammography, for doing ultrasound, etc.
Here is my 3-in-1 packaged formula that I have used circa 1982 in helping patients understand and handle their breast pain phenomenon. My batting average in accuracy is 98 to 99%.
1. If there is a breast mass, there is a problem.
2. If there is NO breast mass, there is NO problem.
3. If there is NO breast mass, even if there is breast pain, there is NO problem.
The other four things that I do in terms of allaying the fear of the breast cancer in patients with breast pain but with no breast mass are:
1. Explaining that it is hard to identify the specific cause of the breast pain (that is, if there is no obvious clue present) but it is usually due to something physiological (natural) such as hormonal changes or something that will spontaneous go away with time (usually caused by nerve irritation). See also explanation no. 4 (on anxiety-induced pain) below.
2. Explaining that breast pain is usually not seen in patients with breast cancer and that if there is a breast mass that is painful, there is a higher chance it is not a cancer in contrast to if there is a breast mass that is NOT painful, there is a higher chance it is cancer. (I use the latter explanation to educate the patient not to disregard breast mass that is not painful.)
3. Explaining that my formula has a batting average of 98 to 99% accuracy; that I am 98 to 99% certain of my diagnosis; and, to take care of the 1-2% inaccuracy and uncertainty, there is a need to do regular monitoring (monthly breast self-examination and periodic breast specialist examination) and check-up with a breast specialist.
4. Lastly, explaining that is important to understand fully at least the first two (2) abovementioned explanations in order to stop the vicious cycle of anxiety-induced breast pain. Anxiety (fear of breast cancer) can cause breast pain and uncontrolled anxiety can perpetuate the symptom of breast pain even there is no obvious breast disease present. Control of anxiety (fear of breast cancer) removes symptom of breast pain in the absence of breast cancer.
It goes without saying, trust and confidence in the breast specialist giving the formula and four explanations removes the symptom of breast pain in the absence of breast cancer.