Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 417–424 | Cite as

Long-term clinical outcomes in women with breast pain in the absence of additional clinical findings: mammography remains indicated

  • Mitra Noroozian
  • Lauren F. Stein
  • Kara Gaetke-Udager
  • Mark A. Helvie
Preclinical study


The purpose of the study was to determine the long-term clinical outcomes of women with breast pain in the absence of additional symptoms or signs (isolated breast pain), and the utility of mammography in their work-up. IRB approved, HIPAA compliant study retrospectively reviewed 1,386 patients referred for breast imaging with ICD-9 code for breast pain between 1/1/2006 and 12/31/2007. Of these, 617 consecutive women (mean age, 49 years) with isolated breast pain, mammogram, and follow-up (mean, 51 months) constituted the study group. Clinical data, mammographic and sonographic BI-RADS assessments, and geographic relationship between the site of cancer and pain were evaluated. The frequency of malignancies and of specific benign outcomes, both at and subsequent to the time of presentation, was determined. Breast cancer and specific benign outcomes were diagnosed in the painful breast of 11/617 (1.8 %) and 63/617 (10.2 %) women, respectively. Majority of the cancers (9/11, 81.8 %) were diagnosed subsequent (5–52 months) to initial imaging evaluation, whereas the majority of benign outcomes (52/63, 82.5 %) were diagnosed at initial presentation. Diagnostic mammography at initial presentation had a negative predictive value of 99.8 % (95 % CI 99.1 %, 100 %), specificity of 98.5 % (95 % CI 97.2 %, 99.3 %), and sensitivity of 66.7 % (95 % CI 11.6 %, 94.5 %). Three cancers were subsequently diagnosed in the contralateral (non-painful) breast. Eleven of 14 (78.6 %) cancers were in the symptomatic breast, of which 9 (81.8 %) geographically corresponded to the same area of focal pain. Thus, infrequently,  breast cancer may clinically present as or be preceded by isolated breast pain and diagnostic mammography is useful for assessment.


Breast pain Breast cancer Outcomes Mammogram 



We thank Lubomir M. Hadjiyski, Ph.D. for statistical analysis and Lisa Robbins for article preparation.

Conflict of interest

Authors M. Noroozian, L.F. Stein, and K. Gaetke-Udager, have no conflict of interest. M.A. Helvie discloses a General Electric Healthcare Institutional Grant (an activity not associated with this work).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitra Noroozian
    • 1
  • Lauren F. Stein
    • 2
  • Kara Gaetke-Udager
    • 1
  • Mark A. Helvie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity of Michigan Health SystemAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyOakland University William Beaumont School of MedicineRoyal OakUSA

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