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A note on terms:
Everyone has breast tissue and people of all genders can get breast cancer. To be clear and consistent, we use the word ‘breasts’ in our health information, rather than boobs, pecs or chest. When we say breasts, we mean the tissue from your rib cage up to your collarbone and armpits, including your nipples.
Breast pain (mastalgia) is very common. There are lots of reasons why you might have breast pain, but on its own it is very rarely a sign of breast cancer.
There are two types of breast pain:
Cyclical Breast Pain
Cyclical breast pain is pain that is related to the menstrual cycle. It is very common and perfectly natural, but you don’t have to put up with it if it is very painful. This type of breast pain affects people who have periods (menstruate), and is related to the hormones that control periods (your menstrual cycle). Cyclical pain usually happens around the time of your period, commonly starting around 3-7 days before your period starts, and it can last up to 2 weeks.
Here are some ways to relieve cyclical breast pain:
Non-Cyclical Breast Pain
Non-cyclical breast pain is not related to your periods, and is most common in women over 40. Too much caffeine, poor posture or injury to your breast tissue could be causes of non-cyclical breast pain. Sometimes, pain in this area might not be in your breast tissue at all, but instead in your chest wall, pectoral muscles or ribs. Talk to your GP if you are concerned.
Here are some ways to relieve non-cyclical breast pain:
When To See Your GP
Book an appointment with your GP if:
This information was published in April 2021. We will revise it in 2024.
Find out more about the signs and symptoms of primary breast cancer below.Find out more