Preparing for your appointment

If you have breast pain that is new, that persistently affects just a particular part of your breast or that affects your quality of life, see your doctor for an evaluation. In some cases, when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a breast health specialist.

What you can do

The initial evaluation of your breast pain focuses on your medical history. Your doctor will ask about the location of your breast pain, its relation to your menstrual cycle and other relevant aspects of your medical history that might explain the cause of your pain. To prepare for this discussion:

  • Take note of all your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to your breast pain.
  • Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable.
  • Review key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
  • List all the medications, vitamins and supplements that you regularly take.
  • List questions to ask your doctor, from most important to least important.

For breast pain, basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests might I need?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend for my condition?
  • Are there any home remedies I might try?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask you questions such as:

  • Where in your breast do you feel pain?
  • How long have you had breast pain?
  • On a 10-point scale, how severe is your pain?
  • Do you have pain in one or both breasts?
  • Does the pain seem to occur in any sort of pattern?
  • Have you ever had a mammogram? When was your last one?
  • Do you have any other signs or symptoms, such as a breast lump, area of thickening or nipple discharge?
  • Have you noticed any skin changes, such as redness or a rash?
  • Have you recently had a baby? Or have you experienced a pregnancy loss or termination?
  • How does the pain impact your quality of life, for instance sleep, sexual activity or work? Does your pain make you less able to perform daily activities?
  • Have you been involved in any activities or had a recent injury to your chest that may contribute to your breast pain?

Your doctor may also assess your personal risk of breast cancer, based on factors such as your age, family medical history and prior history of precancerous breast lesions.