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Persistent Breast Pain Among Women With Histories of Breast-conserving Surgery for Breast Cancer Compared With Women Without Histories of Breast Surgery or Cancer

Edmond, Sara N. PhD; Shelby, Rebecca A. PhD; Keefe, Francis J. PhD; Fisher, Hannah M. BS; Schmidt, John E. PhD; Soo, Mary S. MD; Skinner, Celette S. PhD; Ahrendt, Gretchen M. MD; Manculich, Jessica BS; Sumkin, Jules H. MD; Zuley, Margarita L. MD; Bovbjerg, Dana H. PhD

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000377
Original Articles

Objectives: This study compared persistent breast pain among women who received breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer and women without a history of breast cancer.

Methods: Breast cancer survivors (n=200) were recruited at their first postsurgical surveillance mammogram (6 to 15 mo postsurgery). Women without a breast cancer history (n=150) were recruited at the time of a routine screening mammogram. All women completed measures of breast pain, pain interference with daily activities and intimacy, worry about breast pain, anxiety symptoms, and depression symptoms. Demographic and medical information were also collected.

Results: Persistent breast pain (duration ≥6 mo) was reported by 46.5% of breast cancer survivors and 12.7% of women without a breast cancer history (P<0.05). Breast cancer survivors also had significantly higher rates of clinically significant persistent breast pain (pain intensity score ≥3/10), as well as higher average breast pain intensity and unpleasantness scores. Breast cancer survivors with persistent breast pain had significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms, as well as pain worry and interference, compared with survivors without persistent breast pain or women without a breast cancer history. Anxiety symptoms were significantly higher in breast cancer survivors with persistent breast pain compared with women without a breast cancer history.

Discussion: Results indicate that persistent breast pain negatively impacts women with a history of breast-conserving cancer surgery compared with women without that history. Strategies to ameliorate persistent breast pain and to improve adjustment among women with persistent breast pain should be explored for incorporation into standard care for breast cancer survivors.

Departments of *Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Hillman Cancer Center

Magee-Women’s Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Cancer Center, Pittsburgh, PA

§Department of Clinical Sciences and Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Supported by NIH R01-CA-131148-05, PI: F.J.K. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Dana H. Bovbjerg, PhD, Biobehavioral Oncology Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Hillman Cancer Center, Cooper Pavilion - Suite #1405115 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232-1301 (e-mail:

Received January 23, 2015

Received in revised form March 30, 2016

Accepted March 7, 2016

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