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All TopicsForum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy → Topic: Ok, now I have a question.

Topic: Ok, now I have a question.

Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: Aug 6, 2007 03:48AM

caaclark wrote:

I figured this is the formum for my question. I had a right side mast. after lump., and chemo. The mast. was 13 months ago. No recon. Additionally, I had rads, which ended last Sept. Just this weekend I have this weird itching sensation on the mast. side. Nothing visible on the skin. Here is the annoying part-because I only have some feeling on that side there is nothing that I can do to get rid of the itchy feeling. Is it possible that it is just nerves regenerating. It is not constant, more intermittant. Any suggestions on how to get rid of the itching? When I feel it, it drives me crazy. Also, I have been wearing an underwire bra that I love but could that be causing it?

Carol Clark- Author of WHEN OUR MOM HAD CANCER Diag.1/06 at age 40, 1.6cm, 6+nodes, stage IIIa, er/pr+, her2-, chemo, mast. rads, no recon
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Aug 6, 2007 09:38AM JustOne wrote:

Hi Carol,

Ahh, yes, I get the itch too even after all these 7years. Although not as much as I used to, it�s still annoying as heck. Mine is right at my scar and although numb, it cannot be scratched or satisfied with scratching. It seems to be deep inside and I have no idea what starts it up or if it will ever go away completely. Is your scar very tight on your chest wall? My scar is very taut; I even have a few stretch marks coming from my incision� I wonder if that has something to do with it.? It�s a mystery to be sure.

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Aug 6, 2007 08:19PM BoobsinaBox wrote:

I've had itching trouble too, and a friend suggested I try Hydrocortisone 1% cream on the spot. I generally apply a dab to the spot that sometimes itches right after my shower and in the evening before bed, and it mostly takes care of the sensation. My surgeon says it is nerves regenerating and that itching is preferable to pain, but I've had this for over a year... bilat mast 15 months ago. (I'm on the same tube I bought in October last year, Equate brand, and it really doesn't take much!)
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Aug 7, 2007 04:07AM caaclark wrote:

I tried the scratching my arm thing and it did not work for me but glad it works for you! I also tried hydrocortizone but no luck with that either. I did notice that it happened less frequently last night so maybe it is subsiding or maybe I am just getting used to it.

Carol Clark- Author of WHEN OUR MOM HAD CANCER Diag.1/06 at age 40, 1.6cm, 6+nodes, stage IIIa, er/pr+, her2-, chemo, mast. rads, no recon
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Aug 7, 2007 11:28AM Steph54 wrote:

I asked my oncologist about this "annoying itch that I can't scratch." She explained that it is similar to the uncomfortable sensations felt by an amputee. ( I guess the itch is actually in my missing breast!)


There are hundreds of thousands of patients in the United States that have undergone amputations and who suffer with persistent phantom limb pain. This pain can affect mastectomy patients as well as those with simple tooth extractions . Phantom sensations of some kind are almost universal in patients that have undergone limb amputations. Significant pain occurs in as much as 80% of these patients, but seems to improve over time in at least half of these patients.

The cause of phantom pain is not fully understood. It is important to emphasize that the pain is not imagined, and is not the result of a psychological or emotional disturbance. We have learned that the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) is capable of creating "memories" of pain that can cause the pain to persist. Furthermore, normal sensation plays an important role in inhibiting pain. (Notice our tendency to rub an area that has been injured.) The loss of a limb means that pain sensations can persist without the brakes of the normal sensations of touch and movement.

I thought this article was interesting.

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Aug 7, 2007 06:11PM Beesie wrote:

Just to let you know, it's not just those of you who haven't had reconstruction who have this problem. I have an implant, and I have the itching too. There was a thread about this a couple of months ago - it seems that a few of us who've had implant reconstruction have itching. Just like you, there is nothing that we can do to get rid of the itch - you can scratch the skin but the itch seems deeper, although of course with an implant, it's not really deeper! It also seems to be worse at night and sometimes even wakes me up.
Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Aug 8, 2007 09:20AM lvtwoqlt wrote:

I am with beesie, I am doing reconstruction and I get the extreme itching. My mother who is six yr survivor without recon says she still gets the itch on that side.

Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006 Surgery 2/11/2005 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 9/9/2006 Lumpectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 10/11/2006 Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes Surgery 5/31/2007 Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Aug 9, 2007 05:42AM Steph54 wrote:

This article was in one of my nursing journals and maybe an easier read than what I found on the net yesterday.


Pain experienced after Mastectomy
Occurs in 25-55% of women after mastectomy.
If it is going to occur, it usually begins early, within the first month after mastectomy More common in younger women, those who have had children, and in those who had premenstrual breast tension prior to mastectomy. Its occurrence is not related to a history of breast feeding, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or breast prostheses.


Initially it resembles clothes rubbing a sunburn or "sore nipples" like when one first breast feeds. Sharp shooting pains may also occur.
Early on it usually feels like it is coming from the nipple area even though the nipple is no longer present. Later it seems to be over the whole "breast.� It is intermittent, rarely constant. Usually it occurs spontaneously, but may be triggered. Common triggers include anything rubbing the incision (early on), vigorous exercise, hot flashes, sexual arousal, menstruation, and changes in weather.
Similar sensations may occur simultaneously in the non-operated breast, or on both sides at the time of a second mastectomy.


Usually phantom pain decreases in intensity and frequency over weeks to months. It may be replaced by phantom sensation, a tingly sensation and/or the feeling that the breast is still present. Some women only have phantom sensation, never phantom pain.
After 1-6 years, 10-15% of mastectomy patients will still experience some phantom pain. The frequency varies from a few times a year to more than once a day (uncommon). Another 10-15% will have only phantom sensation, the feeling that the breast is still present.


Phantom pain can be treated with capsaicin, a non-prescription cream found in the arthritis section of the drug store. 85% good to excellent response. Cost ~$10 per tube. first few applications. It may make the phantom pain more frequent for the first few days. It takes 2-4 weeks to get maximal effect. Check with your doctor to be sure your incision is healing adequately before starting.
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Aug 9, 2007 10:13AM caaclark wrote:


Ahh. Just what I was looking for-a drug. I will have to pick some up the next time I see it. I have not felt the itching sensation over the last 24 hours so I wonder if it was the underwire bra I was wearing. Who knows. I will have to wear it again and see what happens.
Carol Clark- Author of WHEN OUR MOM HAD CANCER Diag.1/06 at age 40, 1.6cm, 6+nodes, stage IIIa, er/pr+, her2-, chemo, mast. rads, no recon
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Aug 9, 2007 05:40PM OLBinNJ wrote:

I also have the itching, even after all these years (dx '96). It's not as bad as in the beginning, but I get it every once in a while. By the way, it's not a good idea to wear an underwire bra, it could lead to lymphedema. If you like the bra, just cut a small slit, and pull the wire out.
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Aug 11, 2007 06:14AM Patrish wrote:

I have had flap reconstruction, and now my itch is really buried! very annoying...P.

Patrish Dx 10/26/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 5/25 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Aug 11, 2007 09:55PM starzhere wrote:

I had a mastectomy 17 years, ago, and I still get the tingly feeling and the feeling that the breast is still there.
Sometimes it feels like my nipple itches. With itching I find that pressing or patting the spot helps.
Dx 10/31/1989, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/12 nodes, ER-/PR-

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