Post Mastectomy Pain Syndrome
Several studies have shown that persistent pain after treatment for breast cancer is a common problem, ranging between 25% and 60% depending on definition, measurement, and methods of treatment. The term refers to pain in and around the area of surgery lasting beyond three months after surgery when all other causes of pain such as recurrence have been ruled out. Persistent pain after treatment has a considerable negative influence on the quality of life in breast cancer survivors, and persistent pain, in general, has important economic consequences for the healthcare system. Many potential pre-, intra-, and postoperative risk factors for persistent pain after treatment for breast cancer have been proposed, including young age, pain elsewhere in the body, radiotherapy, and the extent of axillary surgery.
The global epidemiology of persistent pain after breast cancer treatment (PPBCT) is still incomplete probably because of the neglected recognition of PPBCT. It is conceivable that the incidence of PPBCT may be underestimated, since there may be multiple barriers for patients to report their pain to their physicians. Ongoing pain after treatment is an unexpected reality for some women with breast cancer and may induce anxiety about cancer recurrence, and some women may not report persistent pain for fearing that they may find out to be cancer recurrence.
Estimates of the prevalence of phantom breast sensation in patients following mastectomy have been as high as 60– 80%. Estimates of the prevalence of ICN (or PMPS) also vary widely. Stevens et al. (1995) reported that the prevalence of PMPS was 20% after breast cancer surgery.