Cancer-free does not necessarily mean pain-free. Nearly 50 percent of breast cancer survivors live with chronic pain according to a recent Denmark study . Although a breast cancer survivor might breathe a sigh of relief, she might wince in pain. Usually, the pain after breast cancer treatment is a burning and/or shooting nerve pain felt in the arm pit (axilla), shoulder, arm, or chest wall. Typically this pain is called " Post-Mastectomy Pain Syndrome " which is a misnomer because this pain is also associated treatments other than a mastectomy.
A mastectomy used to be the only definitive treatment until the advent of breast conserving treatments. One would think that breast conserving treatments would lower the incidence of chronic pain felt by breast cancer survivors. Not so, as chronic pain is actually more likely following a lumpectomy than with a mastectomy. Why? One probable reason: this less invasive surgery also is coupled with radiation treatment.
Radiation therapy ...
That uncomfortable burning sensation you feel just before your period. The soreness and tenderness that seems to come out of nowhere, sometimes so bad you can’t even stand to put on your bra. A sharp, stabbing pain that happens several random times a day. A source of pride as young women, sustenance for our babies, always part of our sexual life (till we lose them), breasts mark us as women. And while they can be a source of pleasure and satisfaction, they can also betray us in a number of ways: in rare cases, by developing cancer. And less seriously, but certainly just as important, by becoming a source of pain. The good news is, pain is almost never a symptom of breast cancer. Only about 5% of women with breast cancer experience pain in their affected breast prior to diagnosis. The exception to this is inflammatory breast cancer, a rare cancer that can begin with pain and soreness. But in general, that pain you’re feeling in your breast is probably NOT cancer. Breast ...
"Will I die?" That's the first question that occurs to most people when they find out they have breast cancer. The answer is, "Of course you will die, but probably not for a long time." There is an excellent survival rate for breast cancer these days. Most women live to be old ladies.
"Will it hurt?" That's the second question. The answer this time is "yes."
Pain is a part of medical treatment. Depending on the type of treatments you have, the pain may be range from uncomfortable to severe, but many strategies can minimize it.
Pain is a very subjective experience. Each person experiences it her own way. My own measuring stick for pain is how it compares to my hysterectomy. Nothing in breast cancer treatment has been nearly so bad. But I'm sure some of you will tell me about how your hysterectomy was easy compared to a recent procedure you had for breast cancer.
Women who have given bir...
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