Phantom phenomena in mastectomized patients and their relation to chronic and acute pre-mastectomy pain

Pain. 2004 Jan;107(1-2):140-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2003.10.007.


Chronic and acute pre-mastectomy pain as well as prevalence and characteristics of phantom phenomena following mastectomy were investigated by interview in a sample of 39 women who had undergone unilateral breast amputation. Twenty of 39 participants reported phantom sensations in the breast. Nine of the participants with phantom sensations experienced phantom pain and 11 non-painful phantom sensations. Although some features of phantom breast phenomena appear to be similar to characteristics of phantom phenomena in limb amputees, phantom breast phenomena seem to differ in a variety of ways such as time of onset or localization. This difference may be explained by the absence of kinesthesis and the small representation of the human breast. Seven of the 39 participants experienced chronic and six acute breast pain prior to the amputation. The amount of chronic pre-mastectomy breast pain weighted by the amount of involved tissue was significantly higher among participants with non-painful phantom sensations, compared to women with painful phantoms and those without phantom phenomena.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects
  • Mastectomy / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain / surgery
  • Pain Measurement
  • Perceptual Disorders* / etiology
  • Perceptual Disorders* / psychology
  • Time Factors