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Survey on recognition of post-mastectomy pain syndrome by breast specialist physician and present status of treatment in Japan



Post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS) is chronic pain after breast cancer surgery and is reported to influence quality of life (QOL). Although the results of a survey in Japan showed high incidence, at 21–65 %, many of the patients had never been treated for PMPS. One reason for this low treatment rate may be poor understanding of PMPS by medical personnel. In this study, we conducted the survey by using questionnaire to assess current treatment and the recognitions of the medical personnel.


We mailed a questionnaire to 647 specialist members of the Breast Cancer Society.


Of those, 34.7 % responsed. While PMPS was recognized by as much as 70.5 % of responding physicians, it was treated by as little as 47.7 % of the responders. In addition, while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which were ineffective in relieving PMPS, were used by 78.4 % of the responders, effective drugs were rarely used; therefore, treatment was considered ineffective by 69.5 %. This indicates that appropriate therapies are not widely used, and none of the current therapies are very effective.


The results showed high recognition of PMPS pathology among physicians, but the treatment rate was as low as 47.7 %. NSAIDs were the main treatment, and the treatment effects were not satisfactory. It was revealed that currently appropriate treatment modalities have not been widely used. Education of physicians, distribution of treatment information and further studies are considered necessary for the spread of appropriate treatment modality.

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This survey was conducted with the cooperation of the Japanese Breast Cancer Society as a part of research for “Standardization of Treatment of Chronic Pain after Breast Cancer Surgery” as a part of a 2007 Grant-in-Aid for Cancer Research from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare “Research on Technical Improvement of Supportive Treatment and Palliative Treatment for Cancer Patients.” All authors declared no conflicts of interest. We would like to express our appreciation to the many specialists of the Japanese Breast Cancer Society for their cooperation.

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Correspondence to Keiko Y. Kojima.

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Kojima, K.Y., Kitahara, M., Matoba, M. et al. Survey on recognition of post-mastectomy pain syndrome by breast specialist physician and present status of treatment in Japan. Breast Cancer 21, 191–197 (2014).

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  • Breast Cancer
  • Post-mastectomy pain syndrome
  • Recognition by physicians
  • Quality of life
  • Treatment