Nigerian Journal of Surgery

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

Ochonma A Egwuonwu, Stanley N C Anyanwu, Gabriel U Chianakwana, Eric C Ihekwoaba


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
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