Causes and Treatment for Pain After Breast Cancer Therapy

Causes and Treatment for Pain After Breast Cancer Therapy

 It is defined as typical pain and associated symptoms (edema, numbness, dysesthesia etc) located in the chest wall, arms, axilla, shoulder and persist beyond the period of three months. It affects 10 to 30 % of women who have undergone breast surgery. (Breast Cancer).

Causes for Pain After Breast Cancer Therapy

  Following are the causes of Breast Cancer Therapy Pain Syndrome
1. Injury to the nerves during surgery
2. Radiation and Chemotherapy further aggravate the injury

It is believed that PBTPS results from injury to nerves during surgery and  Radiation and chemotherapy further aggravate the injury. Because of multi variant causes PBTPS encompases many symptoms which can range form mild to severe. Chest and upper arm pain, numbness, edema, continuous aching and pain associated with hypersensitivity to pain. The symptoms continue beyond 3 months with same or with increased severity.

The common cause of onset of symptoms is injury to nerves, especially to intercostobrachial nerve, nerves of brachial plexus, long thoracic nerve, thoraco-dorsal may also be involved.

Younger Women are More At Risk :

Studies showed that 65 % of women of age between 26 - 49 years develop PBTPS while 26 % of women of age above 70 age develop PBTPS.  Improper surgical technique is the most common cause and the nature of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women is different from that of  post menopausal women.

Treatment for Pain After Breast Cancer Therapy

1. NSAIDs ( ibuprofen, neproxen  and other anti-inflammatory drugs.)
2. Low Dose anti-depression ( SSRIs )
3. Topical counter irritants ( capsacian, and mentholated creams )
4. Local anesthetics
5. Corticosteroids
6. Other options include;
 a) Thoracic sympathotectomy
 b) Intermittent injection of corticosteroids or anesthetics in the epidural space.
 c) Implantable spinal cord stimulators
 d) Regional neurolytic agents
 e) Acupuncture is also helpful.