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We specialize in a better breast experience

What Causes Breast Pain?

Breast pain is any discomfort, tenderness, or pain in the breast or underarm region, and it may occur for a number of reasons. Although many women with pain in one or both breasts may be concerned that it is breast cancer, breast pain is NOT commonly a symptom of cancer.

There are a number of harmless causes for breast pain and tenderness that may primarily be related to changes in hormone levels. These can include:

  • Puberty in girls and sometimes for boys, too
  • Menstruation and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Pregnancy - more often during the first trimester
  • Days following childbirth as milk comes in
  • Breastfeeding Mastitis
  • Menopause

Some women have lumpy breast tissue called fibrocystic breasts, which may be more painful during certain times of the month. Fibrocystic breasts are not necessarily linked to cancer, and the lumps are fluid filled cysts rather than a mass of cells. Fibrocystic breast changes are also a common cause of breast pain. Fibrocystic breast tissue contains lumps that tend to be more tender just before your menstrual period.

If you experience pain along with any of the following symptoms, you should contact your physician:

  • Bloody or clear discharge from your nipple
  • A new lump with the onset of the pain; lump does not go away after your menstrual period
  • Persistent, unexplained breast pain
  • Signs of a breast infection, including local redness, pus, or fever

Learn more about breast pain

New Technology and Innovations in Breast Health

Pardee UNC Health Care invests in new technology that offers advances in comfort and accuracy from mammogram to breast cancer care.

There are a number of reasons people put off a mammogram screening -- you have a busy schedule, the exam could be painful, or you don’t think you’re at risk for breast cancer. However, getting an annual mammogram at the right time can save your life. The mammogram is currently the best screening tool for breast cancer and early detection. And with new technology, mammograms are more comfortable and accurate than ever.

3D Mammography

Pardee uses 3D mammography, which is the only equipment that is FDA approved as superior to standard 2D mammography.

Multiple clinical studies show 3D mammography is beneficial for all women, no matter your breast type or density. The 3D mammography detects 41% more invasive breast cancers and reduces false positives by up to 40%. For the patient, this means more accuracy and less anxiety.
Pardee recently installed a second 3D mammogram screening room, providing the ability to see more patients with significantly less wait time for patients wanting to schedule an exam.

3D Biopsy

Pardee is one of only two facilities in Western North Carolina to offer 3D-guided biopsy.

This biopsy technique samples lesions which cannot be detected with the standard 2D digital mammography, and can only be identified with 3D mammography. The 3D-guided biopsy is the highest level technology available today for sampling lesions in the breast, which may be an indication of breast cancer. The suite of 3D services now available at Pardee allows for an easier, more streamlined procedure that takes less time and uses less radiation.

SmartCurve System

In order to deliver a more comfortable mammogram experience, Pardee has now added the new SmartCurve System.

In addition to the 3D technology now firmly in place and upheld as the standard of care for breast health, Pardee recently added a few new improvements to its suite of diagnostic tools to make the exam more comfortable and accurate.

The SmartCurve System provides curved paddles specifically designed for more comfortable compression during breast imaging. It is clinically proven to deliver a more comfortable mammogram without compromising image quality, workflow or dose. The technology has the potential to increase screening volume and compliance for the countless women who have reported avoiding mammograms due in large part to the fear of discomfort associated with breast compression.

Automated Breast Ultrasound System

Using 3D ultrasound technology, the Invenia ABUS 2.0 quickly and comfortably images dense breasts; an exam typically takes 15 minutes.

Dense breasts are one of the strongest common risk factors in developing breast cancer and approximately 40% of women have dense breasts. Women with dense breasts are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer and 71% of breast cancers are found in women with dense breasts. To respond to this need, Pardee is now offering a new, advanced technology for detecting breast cancer in women with dense breasts.

The Invenia ABUS 2.0 is a new, advanced technology for detecting breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue. The Invenia ABUS 2.0 has been shown to improve detection in women with dense breasts by more than 37% when used in addition to mammography. Using 3D ultrasound technology, the Invenia ABUS 2.0 quickly and comfortably images dense breasts; an exam typically takes 15 minutes.

Breast Seed Localization

Pardee’s board-certified breast surgeon, Dr. Jennifer McAlister, recently adopted the innovative surgical technique of Breast Seed Localization, in place of using wires for localizing surgeries.

Breast Seed Localization is a procedure where a tiny metal seed, about the size of a sesame seed, is placed into abnormal breast tissue to mark its location. During surgery, Dr. McAlister uses a special tool to find the breast seed and the surrounding abnormal tissue. This approach allows the surgeon more precise targeting of the area of breast involved and may allow for less breast tissue removal.

Active Breathing Control

When radiation therapy is needed, the Active Breathing Control device is utilized to help limit the amount of radiation that is exposed to the heart.

This is a noninvasive technology that guides the patient through a series of breath holds while the radiation oncologist captures CT images of the tumor in order to prepare a custom treatment plan. Taking deep breaths increases the distance between the area receiving radiation and the heart. Increasing this distance decreases the risk for developing radiation-induced heart disease while also limiting the amount of radiation to surrounding healthy tissue.

Lymphedema Therapy

The Lymphedema Clinic at Pardee Physical Therapy is focused on improving individualized health and wellness during cancer recovery.

This specialty clinic is committed to providing a holistic approach to care for those affected by lymphedema by managing the condition using the Vodder Method of Completed Decongestive Therapy. In addition, our Post Mastectomy Program can aid in the overall recovery process and includes improving range of motion and strength post-surgery, lymphedema risk reduction, and education for infection prevention.

Treating Left Sided Breast Cancer

Dr. Jennifer McAlister

Dr. Jennifer McAlister

Fellowship Trained Breast Surgeon

Click here to listen to Dr. McAlister’s interview with WTZQ Radio, where she discusses breast health and her philosophy on patient care.

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