(HealthDay News) – More than a quarter of women about to undergo breast cancer surgery experience breast pain, with genetic polymorphisms in inflammatory cytokines correlating with pain, according to a study published in the May issue of The Journal of Pain.

Birha McCann, RN, CNS, of the University of California in San Francisco, and associates recruited 398 women with breast cancer prior to surgery to determine the occurrence rate and characteristics of preoperative breast pain. The women completed self-report questionnaires and were genotyped. Variations in pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine genes were assessed for those who did and did not report pain.

The researchers found that 28.2% of women self-reported breast pain. These women were significantly younger (P<0.001), were more likely to be nonwhite (P=0.032), were less likely to be postmenopausal (P=0.012), reported lower Karnofsky Performance Status scores (P=0.008), and had undergone more biopsies (P=0.006). Presurgical breast pain was significantly less likely for carriers of the minor allele for a single nucleotide polymorphism in interleukin (IL)1-receptor 1 and significantly more likely for carriers of the minor allele of a single nucleotide polymorphism in IL13.

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“Findings suggest that breast pain occurs in over a quarter of women who are about to undergo breast cancer surgery,” the authors write. “Based on phenotypic and genotypic characteristics found, inflammatory mechanisms contribute to preoperative breast pain.”

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