Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

"Phantom" Sensations Reported By One-Third Of Mastectomy Patients

Date:
October 20, 2000
Source:
American Society Of Anesthesiologists
Summary:
Some women experience "phantom" pain and other sensations after a mastectomy as if the breast had never been removed. Similar to feelings experienced by some leg or arm amputees, these sensations can persist for months. Research reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists indicates that phantom breast pain (PBP) and phantom breast sensations (PBS) occur in about a third of mastectomy patients.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Some women experience "phantom" pain and other sensations after a mastectomy as if the breast had never been removed. Similar to feelings experienced by some leg or arm amputees, these sensations can persist for months.

Research reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists indicates that phantom breast pain (PBP) and phantom breast sensations (PBS) occur in about a third of mastectomy patients. The study also found that having breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy does not reduce the likelihood that these sensations will occur.

"Women who choose to have breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy are just as likely to experience phantom breast sensations (PBS) and pain (PBP) as women who opt not to undergo breast reconstruction," Srinivasa Raja, M.D., an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins University, said.

Researchers sent a questionnaire to 504 women who had mastectomies at the hospital between 1996 and 1999. Of the 279 who responded, 48 percent had chosen cosmetic surgery and 52 percent had chosen mastectomy alone. Of the respondents, 39 percent reported PBS and 31 percent reported PBP.

"The major predictor of PBS and PBP after mastectomy was the presence of breast pain prior to mastectomy. Breast pain before surgery doubled the incidence of postsurgical PBP and PBS," Dr. Raja said.

Patients with and without breast reconstruction reported similar levels of PBS and PBP. Common PBS included itching, throbbing, "pins and needles" sensations and feelings of pressure.

The similar PBS and PBP rates among the two groups surprised the researchers, Dr. Raja said. "We thought having a replacement breast would lower the incidence of phantom pain and sensations," he said.

In addition, women aged 60 years and older reported significantly less pain than women under the age of 60 (53 percent versus 66 percent, respectively).

The women who reported more pain also reported greater fears about the possible recurrence of cancer and greater concerns that the surgery had a negative impact on their sex lives.

About half of the women surveyed reported pain after mastectomy in other regions of the body such as the arm and chest wall. Again, choice of surgery did not influence the likelihood of experiencing pain in these regions, the researchers reported.

The study also explored the impact of the two types of surgery on women's ability to function. Although the women in the breast reconstruction group reported significantly more muscle weakness and numbness than those in the mastectomy alone group (82 percent versus 65 percent), the two groups did not differ in their ability to function despite this discomfort.

The incidence of depression was about the same in the two groups as well, but depression was more common among women from either group who had also experienced pain after mastectomy. The finding is understandable because, in general, patients with chronic pain are more likely to be depressed, Dr Raja said.

"We hope this new information will help women with breast cancer make more informed choices regarding their treatment," Dr. Raja said.

Researchers believe phantom pain is the body's way of responding to the trauma of amputation. When nerves are cut, the trauma triggers the development of new nerve tissues called neuromas. These new growths send abnormal signals to the nervous system, which the brain interprets as pain.

Phantom pain also may represent a reorganization of the central nervous system in response to the sudden absence of input from a given area. Normally, neurons focus on the areas of the body from which they receive signals. When these signals stop coming, neurons in adjacent parts of the body begin sending signals to those neurons as a form of compensation. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and the second leading cause of death among women.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society Of Anesthesiologists. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society Of Anesthesiologists. ""Phantom" Sensations Reported By One-Third Of Mastectomy Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001018221623.htm>.
American Society Of Anesthesiologists. (2000, October 20). "Phantom" Sensations Reported By One-Third Of Mastectomy Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001018221623.htm
American Society Of Anesthesiologists. ""Phantom" Sensations Reported By One-Third Of Mastectomy Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001018221623.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins