Posted by: joan fbrand | 2017/12/28


Burning sensation in breast

i have a burning sensation in my right breast, it feels heavy and is painfull into my arm. i also have like a pain at the back of my of my shoulder.

Expert's Reply


Cancer expert
- 2017/12/28

Dear Joan, thank you for asking a question from Health24.

I am sorry to hear about the burning sensation which you are experiencing in your right breast with a feeling of heaviness and pain going down into your arm. Any burning, pain or other sensation in the breast is not normal and should be investigated so that an early diagnosis can be made. Unfortunately you provide no information as to your age or breast health history. You also did not make mention of the racial group you belong to. 

We are aware that in the developed world the starting age for regular breast screening by means of a mammogram has been raised to 45 years. This applies to First World countries where access to health care is freely available to everyone.

The South African situation is, however, somewhat different:

The majority of South African women do not enjoy access to health care

During 2012 a total of 1 409+ women between the ages 20 and 44 were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Early diagnosis - early diagnosis remains an important early detection strategy, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the diseases is diagnosed in late stages and resources are very limited. There is some evidence that this strategy can produce "down staging" (increasing in proportion of breast cancers detected at an early stage) of the disease to stages that are more amenable to curative treatment.

Mammography screening - mammography screening is the only screening method that has proven to be effective. Although there is evidence that organised population-based mammography screening programmes can reduce breast cancer mortality by around 20% in the screened group versus the unscreened group across all age groups, in general there appears to be a narrow balance of benefits compared with harms, particularly in younger and older women. There is uncertainty about the magnitude of the harms – particularly overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Mammography screening is very complex and resource intensive and no research of its effectiveness has been conducted in low resource settings.

Breast Self-examination (BSE) - there is no evidence on the effect of screening through breast self-examination (BSE). However, the practice of BSE has been seen to empower women, taking responsibility for their own health. Therefore, BSE is recommended for raising awareness among women at risk rather than as a screening method.

Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) - research is underway to evaluate CBE as a low-cost approach to breast cancer screening that can work in less affluent countries. Promising preliminary results show that the age-standardised incidence rate for advanced-stage breast cancer is lower in the screened group compared to the unscreened group.

We normally suggest  that one should have a mammogram every year for all women from age 40 for purposes of non-symptomatic breast screening.

It is further advocated that:

·         Women who are at risk and those that have had breast health problems in the past should consult their respective health professional to determine a schedule applicable to them

·         Women aged 40 to 54 should have an annual mammogram

·         Women 55 years and older should change to having a mammogram every 2 years – or have the choice to continue with an annual mammogram

·         Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 years or longer

·         Every woman should be informed of the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening by means of a mammogram

·         If you are 40 years or older, you should have a mammogram every year


The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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