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Breast pain.

Q I've recently been experiencing occasional stabbing pain in my breasts. Might this be a sign of a serious problem?

A Report the pain to your doctor, who can assess whether the pain you are experiencing is related to an underlying health problem. Assuming there isn't one, it is likely that what you're describing is noncyclic breast pain, which tends to occur mainly in postmenopausal women. It often isn't clear what is causing the pain, but it is more common in women who have benign tumors called fibroadenomas or breast cysts. Previous breast trauma or surgery also makes women more susceptible to non-cyclic breast pain. And, if you have large breasts, you also may suffer pain that radiates to your neck and shoulders (wearing a more supportive bra can help if this is the reason for your breast pain). Certain drugs and supplements also may be involved--for example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a type of antidepressant, and ginseng.

Non-cyclic breast pain also may be referred pain that originates elsewhere even though it feels like it is centered in the breast. Culprits may include the heartburn that results from gastroesophageal reflux disease, the heart condition angina, gallstones, or a condition called costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum). If you have one of these health conditions (or your doctor diagnoses you with one of them while evaluating your breast pain), taking steps to manage the underlying cause should help ease your discomfort.

Editor-in-Chief Orli R. Etingin, M.D. Director, Iris Cantor Women's Health Center Vice Chairman, Dept. of Medicine Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

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Title Annotation:ASK DR. ETINGIN
Author:Etingin, Orli R.
Publication:Women's Health Advisor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2017
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