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Cyclical breast pain – what works and what doesn’t


Cyclical breast pain (cyclical mastalgia) is a common symptom. Most premenopausal women experience some degree of discomfort, ranging from 2–3 days premenstrual tenderness to severe pain affecting their quality of life. In one survey, 69% of well women over 35 attending for breast screening reported cyclical mastalgia sufficient to cause distress or interfere with their daily routine.1 About 50% of patients attending breast clinics have breast pain.2 After exclusion of breast pathology and other causes of pain unrelated to the breast, two-thirds have cyclical mastalgia and one-third non-cyclical pain or pain arising from the chest wall deep to the breast.3 This article reviews existing treatments for cyclical mastalgia and draws attention to the continued use of drugs of no proven benefit.

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