Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size Users Online: 454


 
  Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 9-11  

Breast Pain: Clinical pattern and aetiology in a breast clinic in Eastern Nigeria


Department of Surgery, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication15-Feb-2016

Correspondence Address:
Ochonma A Egwuonwu
Department of Surgery, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State
Nigeria
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1117-6806.169822

Rights and Permissions
  Abstract 

Background: Patients with breast pain are likely to be very worried because some consider pain in the breast as an indication of malignancy. Objective: To highlight the causes of pain in the patients are presenting to our breast clinic. Materials and Methods: A prospective study of all consenting patients with breast disease presenting to the breast clinic was conducted from January 2004 to December 2008. Results: A total of 664 patients presented to the breast clinic during the study period. Of this number, 127 presented with breast pain either as the sole symptom or in association with other symptoms. The presenting complaints were a pain, pain with lump, and pain with nipple discharge in 63 (49.6%), 59 (46.4%), and 5 (4.0%) patients, respectively. The pain was noncyclical in 96 (75.6%) patients. The site of the pain was whole breast in 87 (68.5%) patients and a lump in 40 (31.5%). The clinical diagnosis in 31 (24.4%) cases was fibrocystic disease, 28 (22.0%) cancer, 23 (18.1%) unknown, 10 (7.9%) fibroadenoma, 8 (6.3%) duct ectasia, 6 (4.7%) normal breast, and others 21 (16.5%) cases benign diseases were diagnosed. The histological diagnosis was fibrocystic changes, carcinoma, and fibroadenoma in 15 (42.9%), 10 (28.6%), and 5 (14.3%) patients, respectively. Others were benign phyllodes, abscess, duct ectasia, chronic mastitis, and lipoma, each constituting 1 (2.9%) case. Conclusion: Breast pain constitutes a small proportion of complaints to our breast clinic. Fibrocystic changes were the most common cause of breast pain both clinically and histologically.

Keywords: Aetiology, breast, pain


How to cite this article:
Egwuonwu OA, Anyanwu SN, Chianakwana GU, Ihekwoaba EC. Breast Pain: Clinical pattern and aetiology in a breast clinic in Eastern Nigeria. Niger J Surg 2016;22:9-11

How to cite this URL:
Egwuonwu OA, Anyanwu SN, Chianakwana GU, Ihekwoaba EC. Breast Pain: Clinical pattern and aetiology in a breast clinic in Eastern Nigeria. Niger J Surg [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Sep 17];22:9-11. Available from: http://www.nigerianjsurg.com/text.asp?2016/22/1/9/169822


  Introduction Top


Breast pain is a common problem in the setting of both primary care and breast clinics. Some researchers have found it to be more common than breast cancer as a presentation.[1] Preece et al.[2] proposed a classification with six subgroups: Cyclical mastalgia, duct ectasia, Tietze's syndrome, trauma, sclerosing adenosis, and cancer. Mastalgia can be associated with premenstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease, psychologic disturbance and rarely, breast cancer.[3],[4] For the majority of women, it is a self-limiting condition, with the breast being normal and few sought treatment.[5],[6],[7],[8] Nevertheless, in a few cases, severe, prolonged cyclical or noncyclical breast pain may cause a major disturbance to various aspects of life.[9] Confronted with the patients complaining of breast pain, clinicians have to determine whether it arises from a mammary or an extra-mammary source. If the problem originates from the breast, further management depends on its nature, severity, and duration. Also, it has been demonstrated that breast pain is not associated with increased risk for cancer.[10] This study aims to highlight the causes of breast pain and their distribution in patients presenting to our breast clinic.


  Materials and Methods Top


A prospective study of all consenting patients with breast disease presenting to the breast clinic was conducted from January 2004 to December 2008. The data of all patients presenting with breast pain form the basis of this study. The data included; age at presentation, presenting complaints, menstrual status, the relation of pain to the menstrual cycle, and the side of the breast affected. The clinical evaluation was done by a consultant general surgeon or a specialist senior registrar in general surgery. Simple frequencies and Chi-square analysis were done using SPSS statistical software version 15.0 (Statistical Package for Social Sciences SPSS Inc. 233 S Wacker Drive No 1100 Chicago, IL 60606).


  Results Top


A total of 664 patients presented to the breast clinic during the study period. Of this number, 127 presented with breast pain either as the sole symptom or in association with other symptoms. Their ages ranged from 14 years to 70 years, with a mean age of 33.7 years. The presenting complaints were a pain, pain with lump, and pain with nipple discharge in 63 (49.6%), 59 (46.4%), and 5 (4.0%) patients, respectively. The duration of symptom was <1 month in 31 (24.4%) and >12 months in 32 (25.2%) Premenopausal patients were 114 (89.8%) and 50 (39.4%) were nulliparous. The pain was noncyclical in 96 (75.6%) patients. It affects the right breast in 50 (39.4%) patients same as the left. Both breasts affected in 27 (21.3%) cases. The site of pain was the whole breast in 87 (68.5%) patients and the lump in 40 (31.5%). The clinical diagnosis [Figure 1] in 31 (24.4%) cases was fibrocystic disease, 28 (22.0%) cancer, 23 (18.1%) unknown, 10 (7.9%) fibroadenoma, 8 (6.3%) duct ectasia, 6 (4.7%) normal breast, and other benign diseases were diagnosed in 21 (16.5%) cases.
Figure 1: Chart of clinical diagnosis of breast pain

Click here to view


The histological diagnosis [Figure 2] was fibrocystic changes, carcinoma, and fibroadenoma in 15 (42.9%), 10 (28.6%), and 5 (14.3%) patients, respectively. Others were benign phyllodes, abscess, duct ectasia, chronic mastitis, and lipoma, each constituting 1 (2.9%) case. In patients with the clinical diagnosis of breast cancer, the presenting complaints were a pain in 14.3%, pain with nipple discharge in 10.7%, and pain with a lump in 75.0%. Also, 70% of those with histological diagnosis of cancer had pain and lump as the presenting complaint. All the patients diagnosed of cancer clinically or histologically had a palpable breast lump on clinical breast examination.
Figure 2: Chart of histological diagnosis of breast pain

Click here to view



  Discussion Top


In this study, the patients with breast pain had a mean age of 33.7 years, and 60.6% were multiparous; 24.4% had cyclical pain, and 75.6% had unilateral pain. In Australia, Wetzig [10] noted that the patients with breast pain had an average age of 42 years and 87.0% were multiparous, cyclical pain occurred in 59.0%, and unilateral pain occurred in 38.0%.

In Nigeria, Chiedozie and Guirguis [11] found that mastalgia was more often associated with benign tumor (57 out of 67 or 85.0%) than malignant neoplasm (15.0%) in patient with histologically confirmed breast tumors. This agrees with our finding of the cause of mastalgia to be benign in 25 out of 35 (71.4%) and malignant in 10 (28.6%) of the patients with the histological diagnosis.

In Ghana, Clegg-Lamptey et al.[12] studied 447 patients with pain. They noted that 322 (72.0%) had pain as the only symptom and 125 (28.0%) had breast lump and nipple discharge in addition to the pain. They also noted that in patients with pain and other symptoms, the common diagnoses were fibroadenosis in 25 (20.0%) cases, breast cancer in 20 (16.0%), and normal in 18 (14.4%) cases. In our study, the pain was the only complaint in 63 (49.6%) patients. The higher proportion recorded by Clegg-Lamptey et al. may be due to the fact that their patients were from a self-referral breast clinic. In our study, the common clinical diagnoses were; fibrocystic changes in 31 (24.4%) cases, cancer in 28 (22.0%), and common histology diagnoses were fibrocystic changes and carcinoma in 15 (42.9%) and 10 (28.6%), respectively.

In another study of 1612 Ghanaian women with breast pain, the clinical breast examination was normal in 762 (47.3%). Fibrocystic breast changes, lactational mastitis, nonlactational mastitis, and chronic breast abscess were the most common diagnosis made and accounted for 307 (19%), 189 (11.8%), 87 (5.4%), and 77 (4.8%), respectively. Carcinoma was diagnosed in 9 (0.6%) of all the cases.[7]

In Cameroun, 9400 evaluable patients with the breast complaints were consecutively studied by Bejanga et al.[13] Their ages ranged between 15 and 65 years with a median of 33 years. Five thousand six hundred and seventy-five of these presented on account of pain, and a mass was the cause of pain in 74.0%. Gross fibrocystic disease of the breast was the most common tumor encountered in this group. The percentage (60.4%) of patients presenting with breast pain in their study is quite high as compared to 19.1% in our study. This may be because our clinic is a referral center but not a self-referral clinic.

The low rate of histological diagnosis in our study is because biopsy and histology are done on a fee for service basis, and the patients are responsible for sending the tissue for histology and retrieving the result on the presentation of the evidence of payment.

Though mammography was not done on our patients mainly due to the nonavailability of mammogram machine in our center during the study period, some researchers have noted that the prevalence of breast cancer was similar in women with painful breast(s) and the control asymptomatic cases.[6],[14] Jumah et al.[14] in a study of 726 women titled; women with painful breasts without palpable masses: Do they really need a mammogram? The authors noted that mammography had a low diagnostic yield of malignant lesions, just as it was found in the control group. They concluded that mammography in these patients would only provide a reassurance. The risk of breast cancer have been found to be significantly higher in patients presenting with breast pain in addition to other symptoms, as compared to patients with breast pain as the only symptom (16% and 1.24%, respectively, P < 0.0001).[12] In this study, the likelihood of breast cancer both clinical and histological (75% and 70%, respectively) was higher for patient whose presenting complaints was a pain with lump. All the patients with a clinical and histological diagnosis of breast cancer had a palpable lump on clinical breast examination, and none was misdiagnosed as a benign lesion clinically. Though two patients with the histological diagnosis of breast cancer presented with breast pain only, clinical examination revealed a mass involving the whole breast in one and an ill-defined 7.0 cm diameter mass in the other. The high rate of diagnosis of the breast cancer as the cause of breast pain reflects the advanced stage at the presentation of our breast cancer patients. The low rate of clinical diagnosis of mastitis and breast abscess (7.1%) as the cause of breast pain in our study may be because our clinic is not a self-referral clinic. Therefore, the patients with mastitis and breast abscess are like to be managed by the general practitioner and not referred to our breast clinic.


  Conclusion Top


Breast pain accounts for a small proportion of complaints to our breast clinic. Fibrocystic changes were the most common causes of breast pain both clinically and histologically, followed by the breast cancer. No diagnosis of breast cancer was made in the absence of a palpable breast lump in addition to the pain as a presenting complaint.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Onukak EE, Cederquist RA. Benign breast disorders in nonwestern populations: Part III – Benign breast disorders in northern Nigeria. World J Surg 1989;13:750-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Preece PE, Mansel RE, Bolton PM, Hughes LM, Baum M, Gravelle IH. Clinical syndromes of mastalgia. Lancet 1976;2:670-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Olawaiye A, Withiam-Leitch M, Danakas G, Kahn K. Mastalgia: A review of management. J Reprod Med 2005;50:933-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Adewuya AO, Loto OM, Adewumi TA. Pattern and correlates of premenstrual symptomatology amongst Nigerian University students. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 2009;30:127-32.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Leinster SJ, Whitehouse GH, Walsh PV. Cyclical mastalgia: Clinical and mammographic observations in a screened population. Br J Surg 1987;74:220-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Duijm LE, Guit GL, Hendriks JH, Zaat JO, Mali WP. Value of breast imaging in women with painful breasts: Observational follow up study. BMJ 1998;317:1492-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Ohene-Yeboah M. Breast pain in Ghanaian women: Clinical, ultrasonographic, mammographic and histological findings in 1612 consecutive patients. West Afr J Med 2008;27:20-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Padden DL. Mastalgia: Evaluation and management. Nurse Pract Forum 2000;11:213-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Maddox PR. The management of mastalgia in the UK. Horm Res 1989;32 Suppl 1:21-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Wetzig NR. Mastalgia: A 3 year Australian study. Aust N Z J Surg 1994;64:329-31.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Chiedozie LC, Guirguis MN. Mastalgia and breast tumour in Nigerian women. West Afr J Med 1990;9:54-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Clegg-Lamptey JN, Edusa C, Ohene-Oti N, Tagoe JA. Breast cancer risk in patients with breast pain in Accra, Ghana. East Afr Med J 2007;84:215-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Bejanga BI, Marcus E, Djukom CD, Bejanga M. How confounding are breast pain confounders? J R Coll Surg Edinb 1997;42:386-8.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Jumah KB, Obajimi MO, Darko R. Women with painful breasts without palpable masses: Do they really need a mammogram? Afr J Med Med Sci 2003;32:387-9.  Back to cited text no. 14
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]



 

Top
   
 
  Search
 
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

 
  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
Materials and Me...
Results
Discussion
Conclusion
References
Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed2187    
    Printed43    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded119    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal