Breast Pain

Most women will suffer from Breast Pain in their lifetime and there is limited help. Breast Pain on its own is not normally associated with Breast Cancer.  #CheckFeelLookKnow

Things you might want to consider

cropped-LadyMcAddenLogo-favicon.png The Pill – taking the combined contraceptive pill slightly increases the risk of breast cancer. This pill contains both oestrogen and progestogen. Within a few years of stopping taking it, this risk disappears.

cropped-LadyMcAddenLogo-favicon.png Regularly drinking alcohol is associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Limiting the amount you drink can reduce your risk.

cropped-LadyMcAddenLogo-favicon.png Being overweight/obese can increase your risk, especially after the menopause.

cropped-LadyMcAddenLogo-favicon.png Lack of physical activity affects your risk as it reduces the production of certain hormones and growth.

cropped-LadyMcAddenLogo-favicon.png Smoking is now being more linked to breast cancer (evidence is growing) and it is considered the younger the woman is when she starts smoking, the higher the risk.

cropped-LadyMcAddenLogo-favicon.png Pregnancy & breast feeding are proven to have a complex effect on breast cancer risk and overall breast feeding and pregnancy slightly reduces the risk of breast cancer.

cropped-LadyMcAddenLogo-favicon.png HRT is known to increase your risk. The risk is significantly increased when using a combination medication. This is due to the oestrogen and progestogen being used. The single hormone type (oestrogen only) is known to increase risks but only after long term use, although it can also increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Both should be carefully discussed with your GP when carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Breast pain affects 70% of women in their lifetime and on its own, is not usually a sign of breast cancer.

Breast pain is so common that it’s the main reason women are referred to the breast clinic. Due to the high number of referrals, the hospital can’t always meet the target of a 14-day referral pathway and one-stop breast clinic. Lady McAdden has been working with the CCG for Mid and South Essex, along with the Mid Essex Hospitals to look at ways to support patients struggling with breast pain.

Firstly, we want to help women understand that if breast pain is their only symptom, it is incredibly unlikely to be breast cancer. Hospital audits, and the national focus to provide a separate solution to patients with breast pain, support this approach. In fact, in a 2019 audit of all patients referred to Southend and Broomfield hospitals with breast pain as their only symptom, zero were found to have breast cancer.

Secondly, we want to give women with breast pain as their only symptom the chance to explore why they may be experiencing it. The Lady McAdden nurses routinely encounter concerns around breast pain in our Breast Awareness appointments. They can dedicate time to discuss with patients why they might be experiencing breast pain and what they can do to alleviate it. They can also offer advice about over-the-counter medications, lifestyle changes and what to discuss with a GP if this advice isn’t effective.

Appointments in the hospital breast clinic are focused on diagnosing breast cancer and other symptoms and there simply isn’t time to discuss solutions for breast pain at length. Lady McAdden nurses can offer appointments to discuss not only breast pain but other symptoms and changes you should be aware of and how to check for these. They will also advise how and when you may need to be referred for further investigation.

There is a misconception that if you have breast pain, you will be offered a mammogram or ultrasound. These scans are reserved for people who have symptoms of breast cancer, not breast pain alone. This can lead to some patients leaving the breast clinic disappointed or without the answers that they were expecting. It’s important to remember that NHS protocols (NICE Guidelines) have been put in place to prevent over diagnosis and inappropriate imaging and Lady McAdden nurses can assist patients in understanding this.

So, what does this mean?

The Lady McAdden nurses have, with training from the MSE Hospitals, developed a full understanding of how the current breast and breast pain clinics work and where the GP referral sits. From this they have developed self-referral Breast Pain with Breast Awareness sessions for patients who show breast pain symptoms ONLY.

This means that women with breast pain who have been unable to find a solution, either via their GP or breast clinic referral, can explore how they might alleviate the pain themselves. They may have unanswered questions or need support in discussing the pain with their GP, especially if the suggested solutions haven’t helped. The Lady McAdden Nurses may also signpost patients to other organisations for further support, if appropriate.

The new clinics for Breast Pain with Breast Awareness are available on a one-to-one basis with the Lady McAdden nurse either on premises or via video link. To book, simply visit our website and click Book Appointment. There is NO CHARGE for these appointments, but we receive no funding from the NHS or Government and our charity relies on donations. To give you an idea, each video appointment costs the charity £17 and each premises appointment costs the charity £28 , so please help us by donating if you are able to.



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