Many Women Still Have Pain One Year After Breast Cancer Surgery

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Methods needed to identify those who would benefit from preventive treatments, researchers sayTHURSDAY, Jan. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- One year after breast cancer surgery, many women continue to experience pain, according to a new study.

Researchers revealed that the factors associated with the women's pain included chronic pain and depression before surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"Persistent pain following breast cancer treatments remains a significant clinical problem despite improved treatment strategies," Dr. Tuomo Meretoja, of Helsinki University Central Hospital, and colleagues wrote in the report.

"Data on factors associated with persistent pain are needed to develop prevention and treatment strategies and to improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients," the study authors added.

The research, published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved 860 women younger than 75 years of age who had undergone surgery for breast cancer that had not spread to other parts of their body.

The women were treated at the Helsinki University Central Hospital between 2006 and 2010. Of these women, most experienced some degree of pain up to one year after their operation, the authors noted in a university news release.

The researchers asked the women to complete a questionnaire 12 months after surgery to determine if they continued to experience pain following their treatment. If so, the women were asked to rate the severity of their discomfort.

The study revealed that one year after surgery, about one-third of the women reported no pain. The investigators found, however, that nearly 50 percent did experience mild pain, 12 percent had moderate pain, and almost 4 percent felt severe pain.

"These findings may be useful in developing strategies for preventing persistent pain following breast cancer treatment. To identify patients who would benefit from preventive interventions, a risk assessment tool is needed," Meretoja and colleagues concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer surgery.

SOURCE: Helsinki University Central Hospital, news release, Dec. 31, 2013

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



Fri Jan 03, 2014 07:13 PM

Some 8 years after a lumpectomy, I still experience soreness in the breast after exercising strenuously or after my mammogram.  I've been told this is due primarily to radiation's effect on the tissue and resulting surgery scar tissue.  Neither the surgeon or my oncologist mentioned this common continuing issue, causing me needless concern until I questioned it.  Both professions need to be more proactive in making patients aware of these types of issues.  It would lower anxiety levels for post-surgery patients when we experience them.

Fri Jan 03, 2014 08:22 PM

My lumpectomy was almost 5 years ago and I also still have pain, but more in the area where the lumphnodes were removed.  I've been told that this is common by my oncologist.

Sat Jan 04, 2014 02:16 AM

I had a mastectomy and my pain I experience is I. My arms and legs not my breast area

Sat Jan 04, 2014 09:05 PM

I feel like I was tortured and left to die. The endless pain of surgeries/Biopsies/Chemo/Radiation. Never does the pain go away. Worse yet. NO one cares!! There has to be a way to regain Quality of life! It doesn't help since TNBC I have Zero income! I just want quality of life back, pain to let up, so I can be normal work, earn a living & feel human once more! Not walking dead.

Sun Jan 05, 2014 04:06 AM

I had a double mastectomy in March 2008. I still have terrible pain in my right breast where the cancer was. I am never out of pain, and it feels like I am being stabbed and the knife is being being twisted in my chest. It is nice to know it is not just me. No doctors have an answer to the pain. I am afraid to be cut again. God Bless all cancer survivors. 

Thu Jan 09, 2014 09:33 PM

Hi all, I have had a lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiation. 2 years on now and I am feeling pretty good,I was able to excersise to some degre during because I was fit before bc,I don't really know if that has anything to do with how I feel. But I feel like one of the lucky ones after reading your stories. All the best to you all,this is a rotten disease. Rosa

Fri Jan 10, 2014 02:15 AM

I am 77 yrs. old and had a lumpectomy 6 wks. ago. I have had no pain. In 2 wks. I will have a double mastectomy. I don't look forward to it, but I also do not fear it. I do not want pain and also no pain medication. It is my choice to control my pain with meditation. I've used meditation for pain before and it always worked.

Mon Jan 20, 2014 07:46 AM

Maybe this is true but now that I think there will be no problem as there are many medical advances to combat breast cancer or any other cancer. For example hormonal cancer therapy which focus on specific cancer cell characteristics such as proteins that encourage or enable cancer cells to proliferate. This therapy cause less damage to overall cellular structures than chemotherapy and enhance production of antibodies produced by the immune system. This is used to my sister when she had her breast cancer treatment done in Hyderabad, India (BIACH & RI)and it was a successful one. It was almost a year and she doesn't feel any Pain.

Thu Feb 06, 2014 05:22 PM

I had a double mastectomy in 2008. I had DCIS in left breast. Too much for a lumpectomy. I had no treatment after re incision to gain clear margins. I have had pain ever since on the cancer side. I have tried many different things to help but so far it still remains. I currently take cymbalta and lyrica every day. It helps but does not relieve all of the pain and discomfort. I may try acupuncture next. Some days are very dark living with the pain. I would love to have my life back the way it was but since I know this seems not to be possible I just try to get through the bad days and wait for another better one.

Sat Jun 21, 2014 03:47 AM

It will be 2yrs Aug since my double mastectomy and  1yr Aug for finale reconstruction. I still have shooting pain in breast more on left. Along with horrible scars and red marks from the fat transferr. Does it ever go away? Is there anything to help? Glad to have the cancer cells gone but miss my body......

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