Reporter: Shannon Samson
Web Producer: Jason Bailey
A common complaint among women is breast pain, but many aren't sure if they should consult their doctor. While rare, the many causes of breast pain include cancer.
Donna Lang is among the 60-percent of women who experience breast pain. "I was very sore, very painful," says Donna.
Every month, around the time of her menstrual cycle, Donna's breasts would ache.
"It wasn't excruciating pain, but I could tell it was there, so it was very uncomfortable," says Donna.
Radiologist Jennifer Harvey, M.D. says, "Breast pain is a very common problem."
Doctors say breast pain coinciding with the menstrual cycle is likely caused by hormonal changes.
Other reasons for the pain could be injuries, infections, poorly-fitted bras, benign cysts Or in rare cases, a disease known as inflammatory breast cancer.
Helen Kuroki, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist says, "Some common symptoms would be a red, swollen or tender breast."
Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for only one to two percent of all breast cancers, but it is very aggressive.
If cancer is ruled out, doctors will recommend some other treatments for breast pain.
Oil of primrose replaces fatty acids, making breast tissue less responsive to hormonal changes.
The drug bromocriptine works for some women, though side effects include facial hair growth and fertility problems.
Losing excess weight or taking vitamin-E supplements may also work.
Donna was part of a study looking at another option a topical anti-estrogen gel called tamoxifen It worked for her.
"It was nice not to have the pain anymore," says Donna.
It is also nice to know there are so many options for a common problem. Study results for the tamoxifen gel will be released later this year.
Researchers are investigating the gel for other benefits, like stopping breast cancer growth and making breast tissue less dense, so tumors will show more clearly on mammograms.