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Does Breast Cancer Hurt - honest truth from bc patients

Bluebird-DE Member Posts: 1,233

Answer::: yes.

I started a topic yesterday, Breast Cancer Symptoms, link live, and half the women mentioned their mass DID hurt before dx, biopsy and surgery.

Still, we are being told by so very many of our MDs and breast surgeons (bs), in online searches and lists in magazines false information, them saying that the good news is Breast Cancer Does Not Hurt.

But it does, Yes, For Many, Breast Cancer Does Hurt.

Please share your experience, you can mention itching as well as pain, and please include the location of your mass(es) or the bc.

My experience.

  • I had shooting lightening pain in my breast for months prior to finding the mass. Was told it was fibroids.
  • After I found the mass, in the lower side of left breast, very close to nipple and so close to skin 1st bs said he would take a square to be certain..... after I found it, I had repeated shooting stinging pain in the mass area. Felt like a bee stung me a few times an hour, but was told that this was good news because bc does not hurt, so must be an 'infected' duct or something to aspirate.
  • Also noticed that the mass reflected my emotions.... sadness, fear, anger, and my breast hurt in the mass area. Anyone else have this prior or after surgery? (edited to add on 8-13-12 that my breast is still reflecting emotions *_*)
  • After the surgery, I still had the pain, breast felt scraped inside and out, mammos post-surgery left skin on fire, the nipple now was too sensitive to cope, the bee sting sensation was there too, but bs said surgery caused it all. (edited to add on 8-13-12 that the shooting pain stopped after five months, no cancer evident in breast per PET CT which I had in July though still cancer in three axilla nodes) I still had shooting pains in both breasts until April, which I believe was healing from my efforts thus the death and/or healing of cancer cells. I am sharing this part because surgery does not mean the cancer is gone. IMO post-surgery, there is a lot of work to do, whether w conventional medicine, w alternative choices or complementary / integrative choices..... and healing can cause pain too. Yes, bc does hurt. keep listening to the signals your body gives to you and do not let anyone tell you that it is nothing to worry about because it is small and it hurts.

Do not ever never ever let anyone negate your concerns, and know that you can take this list with you to the medical team of your choice if you need it.

Please share if you will, if you experienced pain before the surgery and treatments. Or if you did not feel pain, we need all input. It is time to dispel the myth that breast cancer does not hurt, and I believe it could save lives as well.

Another thread - The Spiritual Journey Into Breast Cancer.



  • IndigoMont11
    IndigoMont11 Member Posts: 42
    edited March 2012

    Hi -

    I haven't wanted to frighten anyone who is trying to figure something out (like I was once upon a time) - but this is so much like the pain I'd had.  I too had sharp flashes of pain from time to time in my left breast.  I didn't have a distinct lump in the sense I'd expected - just a thicker firmer area that I noticed over time.  I only had the pains on the left side.  I had noticed that the discomfort I'd had that I could tell was definitely hormonal seemed to have changed for both sides (used to be - right before my period I could hardly go up and down stairs because the bouncing hurt so much!).  In recent times both sides seemed smoother and that hormone pain was just about nonexistent.  But the little sharp pains were there up until I had my surgery. 

    The path report only showed cancer on the left side, right side was OK.   (I did the BMX to assure myself that I'd reduced my risk of recurrence as low as I could).

    I had BMX on 3/21 and since it was so recent I still have postoperative pain and numbness.  Those weird sharp pains are gone, though. 

    As for an emotional connection, I noticed that too - the more I worried the more strange feelings I had, particularly after the biopsy.  

    I think the biggest message, and the one I didn't want to heed is - question anything that just seems different.  

    Thanks for stepping up with this, Essa!  

  • Faye33
    Faye33 Member Posts: 10
    edited March 2012

    I, too, had pain with my lump.  And the fact that everywhere I read said breast cancer usually does not hurt was one of the big reasons I waited 8 months to see a doctor.

    I had just quit breastfeeding my youngest a couple of months before I noticed the lump.  The lump was tender to the touch, no shooting paint that I remember.  Just tender and painful when I pushed on it.

    Another reason I waited to see a doctor is my lump initially shrunk in size.  It started out about the size of a pea, shrank down to the size of a tiny BB pellet (over the course of 3-4 months), and then grew back to the size of a pea and kept growing.  I'd read that cancer does not shrink and then grow again, so I was not concerned.

    When I finally went to the doctor, the lump felt like a small grape in size.  I still wasn't concerned when I went to the doctor, I'd just had it long enough, I figured it was time to address it.  I was certain it was an hormonal cyst. 

    I don't want to scare anyone either, but I was lulled into a false sense of not being concerned because my lump didn't meet the normal standards.  It boils down to whenever you have a change in your breast that doesn't resolve itself over the course of a month or two, let the doctor do the diagnosing.  And if you are concerned, go to the doctor immediately and pursue answers until you are comfortable the doctor has been thorough enough.

    My doctor thought my lump was a cyst, as well.  He told me that.  But he was thorough enough to verify with testing.  Unfortunately, he was wrong, but I'm thankful he was open enough to the fact he could be wrong to pursue further testing.  Otherwise, I may have waited several more months before I addressed my "cyst".  I credit his vigilance to one of the main reasons my diagnosis was a positive as it was.   

  • Chickadee
    Chickadee Member Posts: 469
    edited March 2012

    In hindsight I had intermittent stinging pain, like a bee sting.

  • Wabbit
    Wabbit Member Posts: 68
    edited March 2012

    Mine did not hurt at all.

    Do you suppose whether it hurts or not might depend on where the lump is located ... what it might be pulling on, etc.?  Mine was located at what they refer to as the 6 o'clock position ... bottom of breast.  Anybody else care to compare location of tumor and pain symptoms?

    Any doctor who tells someone that it can't be breast cancer if it hurts should be run away from as fast as your legs can carry you to another doctor.   

  • camillegal
    camillegal Member Posts: 15,711
    edited March 2012

    I  agree with white rabbit (luv that name) maybe it is where it's located hitting on something that can cause pain sensations. Mine was under the breast and  one was behind the nipple---didn't feel a thing as far as any hurt goes.  But I wouldn't trust a sugestion that if it hurts it's not cancer--oooo

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Member Posts: 205
    edited March 2012

    Seems like I've always had hugely sensitive DO NOT TOUCH breasts, but the left one definitely became unusually swollen and painful a few months prior to dx.  What hurt most was my armpit, deep inside, sharp sharp pains.  Had been complaining for years about that......had a doctor done a few tests and biopsy of my nodes, I'm sure the BC would have been caught much much earlier. 

    "Cancer does not hurt" is a MYTH, a dangerous one  

  • pupmom
    pupmom Member Posts: 1,032
    edited March 2012
    I never felt a thing, until that horrible core biopsy needle shot into me. Frown
  • Kadia
    Kadia Member Posts: 25
    edited March 2012

    I had multifocal and multicentric IDC and DCIS and no pain at all. My largest tumor was at 6 o clock. Being diagnosed came as a total shock to me. I had not heard before about bc supposedly not being painful, but clearly that's not accurate and shouldnt be put out there. I think there should not be warnings to women either way that might mislead them or cause them to put off further testing.

  • otter
    otter Member Posts: 757
    edited March 2012

    I agree with WhiteRabbit. I'll bet it depends on where the lump is located. 

    As far as I could tell, my tumor did not hurt.  But, my breast tissue has always been very dense, and the glandular tissue got really painful during my "PMS intervals" or if I drank too much coffee.

    Turns out, my lump was buried within that glandular tissue.  Any pressure on the lump put pressure on the sensitive glandular tissue, which did hurt.  So, the pain was coming from the normal breast tissue around the tumor, not the tumor itself.

    I do think it's irresponsible for doctors to brush off our concerns just because we say the lump hurts.  IMHO, whether or not a breast lump hurts is not a reliable indicator of whether or not we have cancer.


  • borntosurvive
    borntosurvive Member Posts: 194
    edited March 2012

    I found my lump breast feeding and thought it was a blocked milk duct.  When it was still there after my youngest had weaned I asked my GP to check it.  She was not concerned about it given that it moved seemed to present as a cyst.  Being 33 years old she did not think breast cancer.  She sent me for an ultrasound to "get a baseline" so we could keep an eye on it each year.  Well my ultrasound came back "highly suspicious for malignancy" and my worst nightmare came true. 

    I had no pain or anything with mine.  I could just feel the lump.  I had no symptoms at all and felt completely fine.  My diagnosis came as a total shock to me.  But I am SO thankful that my GP sent me for the ultrasound even though she was not concerned.  She saved my life!

  • greenfrog
    greenfrog Member Posts: 73
    edited March 2012

    My tumour hurt. That's how I found it.

  • kerri72
    kerri72 Member Posts: 6
    edited March 2012

    My tumor was close to the surface and felt tender and sore. I thought it was just a lump from drinking too much coffee (which had happened before). A few weeks later the nodes in my armpit felt sore too I had a horrible sinking feeling. I got it checked out pretty quick but wish I'd gone in even sooner.

  • mland1304
    mland1304 Member Posts: 13
    edited March 2012

    Hello- I am new to this forum today and am very grateful that so many women are willing to share their stories/thoughts. Thank you so much for posting about this topic. I went to the doctor's office today because a few days ago I felt a lump/mass in my left breast that is associated with a very tender/bee sting like pain (at 12 o'clock). It feels very similar to the clogged ducts I used to get when breast-feeding (my daughters are now 3 and 4, so I haven't breast-fed in a little over 2 years). I have a family history of breast-cancer under the age of 35 (an aunt and first-cousin, both who had double-masectomies) and after worrying for two days booked an appt. He felt a tissue mass in the exact spot that I am feeling pain. He said it was not a hard lump, that it was almost more of a mass that is around a gland and an irregular shape. He said this is not an "oh my god" moment, but he scheduled me for a mammogram and breast ultrasound this week. I did read, prior to the appt, that breast cancer is not typically associated with pain and when I mentioned this to him he said "To be honest, I would never think to rule out breast cancer because someone is experiencing pain. It might be less likely, but any lumps or suspicious masses should always be ruled out with a proper evaluation". While I definitely appreciate that he's being so pro-active and sending me for tests, I almost wanted to hear him say "That's true, it isn't usually painful!". Either way, it was helpful to read that it could be painful because I almost put off the appt until next week because of my schedule after I read that pain is not usually associated with cancer. Obivously, I am trying to stay off of "doctor google" as much as possible now. :)  

    I am also having arm-pit pain/soreness, but once my doctor confirmed that he also felt a tissue mass, my thoughts were swimming and I completely forgot to mention the armpit pain. I'm wondering if I should call the office back to mention this symptom. My tests are scheduled for Thursday morning, so I'm sure there really isn't much that can be done before that at this point anyway.

    Thank you for reading/listening!

  • Ang7
    Ang7 Member Posts: 568
    edited March 2012

    That is interesting kerri72~

    The nodes in my armpit hurt for about 2 years prior.  I went to my regular doctor and my gyn. and I was told that it was nothing.  "Might have something to do with your period?"  Hmmm.

  • jankc
    jankc Member Posts: 62
    edited March 2012

    My cancer was in my right breast, 1:00, very small, and I never felt even one twinge; it was my "good" breast.  Like Yorkiemom, however, as soon as the needle from the first biopsy was inserted it started to hurt - a pinching feeling at times and a heavy, humming feeling at others - and mine didn't stop until long after the surgery.

  • Yvette10052011
    Yvette10052011 Member Posts: 27
    edited March 2012

    i was told by the first doctor i saw not to worry too much because breast cancer doesn't hurt. i knew better and knew there was something very wrong with my body. i hoped it was a cyst but it was not. it felt tender, sore and because it was growing so fast it tore at my tissue. it was located at the 2pm position and long.

    my fears were confirmed when i have the needle biopsy. the doctor told me it was not a cyst. i replied: if it's not cancer then what else could it be!?!  the doctor looked me in the eye and said, that's why we're doing this. we need to know what stage you are.

    never doubt what your bod is telling you!! finding my lump saved my life...

  • BouncingBetties
    BouncingBetties Member Posts: 50
    edited March 2012

    I am so glad to see this post! I have heard over and over that if it hurts, it's not cancer. That is a lie and so many women are where I am today because they believed this. I thought I just had a cyst because I had discomfort and pinching, stabbing sensations during hormone fluctuations or after eating too much salt. Surprise! Stage IV metastatic cancer. Cancer does hurt and those of us that have reached this stage know that the pain becomes overwhelming once you have mets. The bone pain, the shoulder pain and the unbearable fatigue. To the doctors who repeat this lie, please stop!

  • 1openheart
    1openheart Member Posts: 250
    edited March 2012

    jankc....did you have a MX or lumpectomy?  I had no pain before my annual mammogram picked up the calcifications associated with my DCIS.  But, after my UMX, I have had continuous pain at the site of the stereotactic biopsy, which of course is right where the focal point of the DCIS was.  

  • jankc
    jankc Member Posts: 62
    edited March 2012
    1openheart, I had a lumpectomy.  The pain where the cancer, the biopsies, and the incision were went away, eventually, but I've had intermittent pains in every other part of the breast since then! I had a mammogram and ultrasound in January, the height of the pain, which showed changes in the tissue from radiation, the source of my problems.  From the date of your diagnosis, you must have a followup coming up soon?     
  • D4Hope
    D4Hope Member Posts: 37
    edited March 2012

    I had shooting pains in my breast where the lump was.

  • Sommer43
    Sommer43 Member Posts: 45
    edited March 2012

    I am so grateful for this thread, as the pain I have been having is chronic!  I shall print this off and show it to my consultant when she tells me "It is not breast cancer, there is no pain associated with pain" 

    This has not scared me at all, it is what is needed to dispell myths, not all people experience pain, as I have read, but there is some pain, thus ruling out pain as nothing to worry about, is wrong. 

  • vivirasselena
    vivirasselena Member Posts: 51
    edited March 2012

    yes, i had pain.  when i mentioned it to my first doctor, she said that it's probably not bc, because you cannot feel cancer.  wrong.

  • 1openheart
    1openheart Member Posts: 250
    edited March 2012

    janc....Yes, I am scheduled for a breast MRI next month.  I had a mammo. on my remaining breast at six months and it was fine.  I am glad that I will have a MRI this time. The diagnostic mammo of my left breast missed a large area of DCIS and an area of ADH in different quadrants from the original dx.  It will be interesting to see if the MRI shows anything in the area where I still have pain.  Would adhesions show up on MRI?  

  • Katiejane
    Katiejane Member Posts: 188
    edited March 2012

       No, mine did not hurt but there was a different sensation when I applied pressure to the area where my ILC was.  I also had 3 lymphnodes in the axilla that were rock hard, did not move when palpating nor was there any pain or odd sensations. The nodes had fused together and were positive for cancer.   katiejane

  • KristinFro
    KristinFro Member Posts: 96
    edited March 2012

    I had pain as well. That's how I found the lump.

  • lanagraves
    lanagraves Member Posts: 40
    edited March 2012

    I had pain in both breasts, much like what other posters have described, but worse in the BC breast. Hard to tell with me if it was the BC or fibrocystics because both breasts were full of cysts when they did my BMX.

  • BouncingBetties
    BouncingBetties Member Posts: 50
    edited March 2012

    vivirassele, can't feel cancer? Really? I think your doctor is really in need of some retraining.

  • jankc
    jankc Member Posts: 62
    edited March 2012

    1openheart, I was told that anything and everything can "light up" with an MRI, but as for adhesions specifically, I really don't know. Good question! 

  • Curlylocks
    Curlylocks Member Posts: 61
    edited March 2012

    I had no pain in my tumour area but did have intermittent pain under my arm on the affected lymph node side several years before my diagnosis.  My doctor at the time said it was nothing!

     I have heard some people have pain and others dont...dont know why this is?


  • mari55
    mari55 Member Posts: 12
    edited March 2012

    I had a dull ache in the area I felt some thickening both in 1999 ( right) and hten again on the left in 2009- both times DCIS- not even a lump just the calcifications.