Chronic pain after breast surgery

Some patients have problems with nerve (neuropathic) pain in the chest wall, armpit, and/or arm after surgery that doesn’t go away over time. This is called post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS) because it was first described in women who had mastectomies, but it occurs after breast-conserving therapy, as well. Studies have shown that between 20% and 30% of women develop symptoms of PMPS after surgery. It isn’t clear how common this is in men after breast cancer surgery. The classic symptoms of PMPS are pain and tingling in the chest wall, armpit, and/or arm. Pain may also be felt in the shoulder or surgical scar. Other common complaints include numbness, shooting or pricking pain, or unbearable itching. Most patients with PMPS say that their symptoms are not severe.

PMPS is thought to be linked to damage done to the nerves in the armpit and chest during surgery. But the causes are not known. It seems to be more common in younger patients, those who had a full ALND (not just a SLNB), and those who were treated with radiation after surgery. Because ALNDs are done less often now, PMPS is less common than it once was.

It is important to tell your doctor if you are having any pain. PMPS can cause you to not use your arm the way you should and over time you could lose the ability to use it normally.

PMPS can be treated. Although opioids or narcotics are medicines commonly used to treat pain, they don’t always work well for nerve pain. But there are medicines and treatments that do work for this kind of pain. Be honest with your doctor if you are in pain to make sure you get the pain control you need.


Surgery Procedure for Male Breast Cancer


Radiation therapy for breast cancer in men

Chemotherapy for breast cancer in men

Hormone therapy for breast cancer in men

Targeted therapy for breast cancer in men

Bone-directed therapy for breast cancer in men


Coping and support for male breast cancer


Related Topics

Benign breast conditions

General breast cancer terms

Types of breast cancer in men








Oncologists, Breast Surgeons are the specialists who deal with the breast cancer