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Frequency of mastalgia among women veterans. Association with psychiatric conditions and unexplained pain syndromes.

Johnson KM, Bradley KA, Bush K, Gardella C, Dobie DJ, Laya MB. Frequency of mastalgia among women veterans. Association with psychiatric conditions and unexplained pain syndromes. Journal of general internal medicine. 2006 Mar 1; 21 Suppl 3:S70-5.

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OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and frequency of mastalgia and its association with psychiatric conditions and unexplained pain syndromes. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional mailed survey completed by 1,219 female veterans enrolled at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in 1998. MEASUREMENTS: Breast pain in the past year, unrelated to pregnancy, was categorized as infrequent ( < or = monthly) or frequent ( > or = weekly) mastalgia. Surveys assessed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, panic disorder, and alcohol misuse with validated screening tests, as well as self-reported past-year chronic pelvic pain, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. RESULTS: The response rate was 63%. Fifty-five percent of the respondents reported past-year mastalgia. Of these, 15% reported frequent mastalgia. Compared to women without mastalgia, women reporting frequent mastalgia were more likely to screen positive for PTSD (odds ratio [OR] 5.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.2 to 8.4), major depression (OR 4.2, 2.6 to 6.9), panic disorder (OR 7.1, 3.9 to 12.8), eating disorder (OR 2.6, 1.5 to 4.7), alcohol misuse (OR 1.8, 1.1 to 2.8), or domestic violence (OR 3.1, 1.9 to 5.0), and to report fibromyalgia (OR 3.9, 2.1 to 7.4), chronic pelvic pain (OR 5.4, 2.7 to 10.5), or irritable bowel syndrome (OR 2.8, 1.6 to 4.8). Women with infrequent mastalgia were also more likely than women without mastalgia to screen positive for PTSD, depression, or panic disorder, or report pelvic pain or irritable bowel syndrome, although associations were weaker than with frequent mastalgia. CONCLUSIONS: Like other unexplained pain syndromes, frequent mastalgia is strongly associated with PTSD and other psychiatric conditions. Clinicians seeing patients with frequent mastalgia should inquire about anxiety, depression, alcohol misuse, and trauma history.

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