Smartphone app monitors breast pain

Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 06:00

Joanne Hunt

A new smartphone app has been designed to help women better understand their breast pain.

A common complaint affecting most women at some time in their lives, breast pain can range from mild to severe. While it can be a cause for worry, experts say it is not, on its own, usually a symptom of cancer.

Launched by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), the new app will enable women to monitor pain and identify patterns.

The lifetime risk for women in Ireland developing breast cancer is one in 10. Nine in 10 women do not develop breast cancer. Director of the NCCP Dr Susan O’Reilly said for the vast majority of women attending a GP with breast concerns, there is no need to attend a symptom clinic.

“We’re delighted to be able to support GPs in advising and empowering women who have benign symptoms to be managed and supported in their communities,” she said.

Cyclical breast pain is the most common type of breast pain and is linked to monthly hormonal changes in younger women. Tending to occur in both breasts and extending into the armpit, it usually happens a few days before the period. Non-cyclical breast pain, common among women in their 40s and 50s, can occur in one breast.

Consultant breast surgeon at the Mater Hospital, Mitchel Barry, said the new app would enhance patients’ understanding of a “very common and benign breast symptom”.

“I am confident it will assist in reassuring young women that cyclical mastalgia in the presence of a normal breast exam is not a sinister symptom.”

Including a daily diary, the app gives tips on how exercise, a healthy weight, reducing caffeine, wearing a good bra and simple pain-relief medication can help symptoms.

Called “NCCP breast pain app ”, it is downloadable from the Apple and Android market.