If one breast has been painful and burning for the past month, the most likely cause is not as scary as you think, though breast cancer CAN be a cause.
“Pain and burning in the breast for one month is usually associated with caffeine and/or nicotine use,” begins Anita Johnson, MD, FACS, a breast surgical oncologist with Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Atlanta.
“Pain and burning in the breast can also present in women who are either perimenopausal or postmenopausal.
“Infection may be a cause but will usually worsen as time goes by and responds to antibiotics.”
The Worst Possible Cause infection
“Breast cancer can present as pain and burning, but this is an uncommon presentation,” says Dr. Martin.
“If there is noted swelling of the breast with associated erythema [redness] or dimpling of the skin, this may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.” The dimpling resembles that of an orange peel.
“Inflammatory breast cancer does not respond to antibiotics. Inflammatory breast cancer is a very aggressive form of breast cancer and you should contact your provider as soon as possible.”
Most cases of BC do not come with pain, aching or soreness in the breast itself.
When a woman discovers a symptom, it is usually a lump that she finds when performing a self-exam or during an incidental touch such as while dressing or showering. Sometimes her doctor will discover the lump during a routine clinical exam.
Other symptoms to look for:
• Inverted nipples, though this doesn’t always mean BC, especially if they’ve been inverting since as long as you can remember.
• Discharge from the nipple other than milk.
• Puckering in the skin.
• A feeling of new-onset hardness or thickening in the skin during a self-exam.
• Sudden but brief shooting, stabbing, piercing or sharp pain in the breast is very unlikely to be caused by cancer.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America main site lists additional symptoms to be concerned about, which can suggest inflammatory BC:
• Increasing size or shape of one breast infection
• Peeling or flaking nipple
Dr. Johnson performs lumpectomies, and skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomies, breast ultrasounds, needle core biopsies, infusaport placements, genetic testing and counseling, plus works with radiation oncologists to treat breast cancer using intraoperative radiation therapy.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.