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J Pain. 2012 May;13(5):425-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2011.02.358. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Associations between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine genes and breast pain in women prior to breast cancer surgery.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0610, USA.


The purposes of this study were to determine the occurrence rate for preoperative breast pain; describe the characteristics of this pain; evaluate for differences in demographic and clinical characteristics; and evaluate for variations in pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine genes between women who did and did not report pain. Patients (n = 398) were recruited prior to surgery and completed self-report questionnaires on a number of pain characteristics. Genotyping was done using a custom genotyping array. Women (28.2%) who reported breast pain were significantly younger (P < .001); more likely to be nonwhite (P = .032); reported significantly lower Karnofsky Performance Status scores (P = .008); were less likely to be postmenopausal (P = .012); and had undergone significantly more biopsies (P = .006). Carriers of the minor allele for a single nucleotide polymorphism in interleukin (IL)1-receptor 1 (IL1R1) (rs2110726) were less likely to report breast pain prior to surgery (P = .007). Carriers of the minor allele for a single nucleotide polymorphism in IL13 (rs1295686) were more likely to report breast pain prior to surgery (P = .019). Findings suggest that breast pain occurs in over a quarter of women who are about to undergo breast cancer surgery. Based on phenotypic and genotypic characteristics found, inflammatory mechanisms contribute to preoperative breast pain.


In women with breast cancer, preoperative pain may be associated with increases in inflammatory responses associated with an increased number of biopsies. In addition, differences in cytokine genes may contribute to this preoperative breast pain.

Copyright © 2012 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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