The NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria has launched a new breast pain clinic to support people in Central Lancashire.
The new specialist service provides examinations and advice to patients suffering from breast pain in Preston, Chorley and other parts of Central Lancashire and is run by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
The Preston-based clinic aims to reduce anxiety and worry for many patients who might otherwise have been unnecessarily referred for hospital tests on a cancer pathway.
Sara Scott, breast nurse consultant at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Breast pain can be both uncomfortable and worrying. However, breast pain alone is rarely a symptom of cancer. That’s why we have set up this breast pain clinic: to offer specialist advice to women where breast pain is their only symptom.
“This means that patients don’t have to be referred on a cancer pathway which can mean unnecessary hospital appointments and create unnecessary worry and anxiety.
“By setting up this specialist breast pain clinic in Preston we will be able to put our patients at ease and offer them help and advice whilst checking family history and conducting breast examinations.”
There are no mammograms or scans in the breast pain clinic. Instead, it focuses on finding the cause of the pain and identifying ways to help manage it.
Most women will experience breast pain at some stage in their life and there are different ways in which women describe the sensations in their breasts including pain, discomfort, a bruised sensation, tingling/itching behind the nipple, and tenderness.
There are many causes of breast pain, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and other hormone-related issues, muscle-related pain or nerve problems and back pain.
Rhona Nash, 64, from Ashton in Preston, was one of the first patients at the breast pain clinic. Rhona said: “I’ve suffered with various types of arthritis for a few years now, particularly in my ankles, hips and neck. However, when I started to feel a pain in my breast, just behind my nipple, it did worry me. My first thought was cancer because my niece has recently gone through treatment for it.
“However, after examining me, my GP said that, because pain was my only symptom, it was unlikely that I had cancer and instead he referred me to a new breast pain clinic for some more specific help.
“The nurse at the clinic listened carefully to my experience and details of my health and family history. She confirmed that she could not find any lumps or other signs of cancer and instead felt that the pain was likely to be referred pain from my ribs as a result of my arthritis.
“She gave me some really practical advice, like using ibuprofen gel and getting a well-fitting bra. The pain has already reduced and I will also be speaking to my arthritis nurse for more advice about managing my symptoms.
“The clinic is brilliant. When I left, I felt that I had been really listened to and was much more at ease and reassured. It definitely alleviated some of the worry and ‘what-ifs’ that I would have had if I’d been referred to a hospital on a breast cancer pathway.”
The new breast pain clinic is at Greater Lancashire Hospital. Appointments are available only via GP referral.
If you are experiencing breast pain, please speak to your GP and if you are eligible for NHS breast screening, please continue to book and attend your mammogram appointments.
More information is available at Cancer Alliance :: Breast pain clinic (icb.nhs.uk)