Post-mastectomy pain syndrome: incidence and risks

Breast. 2012 Jun;21(3):321-5. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2012.01.019. Epub 2012 Feb 27.


Background: Post-mastectomy pain syndrome is defined as a chronic pain that persists beyond the normal healing time of 3 months. It is considered a neuropathic condition that arises after surgery for breast cancer.

Aim: To evaluate the incidence and risk factors of pain syndromes in patients undergoing surgical treatment of breast cancer in the National Cancer Institute.

Methods: This study is a prospective cohort of women undergoing surgical treatment for breast cancer from September 2008 to June 2009, followed up until 6 months postoperatively.

Results and conclusions: One hundred seventy-four women were examined. The mean age was 58 years. The incidence of pain syndrome was 52%. Younger women (<40 years) and those who were submitted to axillary lymph node dissection (with more than 15 lymph nodes excised) have shown a significantly increased risk of pain syndrome after surgery for breast cancer (relative risk (RR) =5.23 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11-24.64) and (RR=2.01 95% CI: 1.08-3.75).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects*
  • Mastectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / statistics & numerical data
  • Pain, Postoperative / epidemiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*