Post-mastectomy pain syndrome: the magnitude of the problem

Rev Bras Anestesiol. 2009 May-Jun;59(3):358-65. doi: 10.1590/s0034-70942009000300012.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Background and objectives: Breast cancer is the most frequent neoplastic tumor in women, and surgical treatment is indicated in most patients. Complications related to this treatment, such as post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS), a persistent pain that develops after surgery, have been reported. Although the genesis of the pain is multifactorial, sectioning of the intercostobrachial nerve is the nerve lesion diagnosed more often. The objective of this study was to review the etiopathogeny, diagnosis, presentation, aggravating or attenuating factors, and risk factors related with the post-mastectomy pain syndrome.

Contents: Provides the definition of the post-mastectomy pain syndrome and the knowledge to facilitate its diagnosis and prevention.

Conclusions: The approach to patients undergoing surgery for breast cancer requires pre- and postoperative follow-up by a multidisciplinary team. This approach can provide a rational choice of surgical technique, identify patients with risk factors, minimize or eliminate risk factors whenever possible, diagnose beforehand the post-mastectomy pain syndrome, and provide adequate treatment to improve the quality of life for this specific patient population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Syndrome