Managing post-mastectomy pain

The condition can affect around 50% of breast cancer surgery patients

Early intervention and referral are the keys to preventing ongoing chronic pain.

Chronic pain in the chest wall, arm and shoulder after breast cancer surgery can be debilitating, lowering quality of life and affecting the psyche of women many months and even years after the completion of cancer treatment.

This pain is commonly referred to as post-mastectomy pain or post-mastectomy pain syndrome, although this title can be deceptive as women who have undergone less invasive local breast excisions and axillary dissections can also be affected.

What kind of pain is it?

Patients may describe the sensation of post-mastectomy pain syndrome as electrical, sharp, lancinating, shooting, burning, stabbing, hot or cold.

Although the description of the pain varies, the location is the same — usually located in the axilla, medial upper arm extending to the proximal