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April 1981

Phantom Breast Sensations

Arch Surg. 1981;116(4):482-483. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1981.01380160092023

To the Editor.—Articles and press reports have emphasized the significance of phantom sensations of the breast and nipple after excision.1 The rarity of any spontaneous mention of this complication puzzled us. A patient who had had a modified radical mastectomy for breast cancer asked a sequential sample of our patients whether they had such sensations. Of 40 patients, only 13 described some feeling that the breast or nipple was still present at one time or another. Neither age, operation, or interval between operation and the inquiry seemed critical. One patient recalled that she had some phantom breast sensations in the first year after surgery, but none afterwards. Another patient reported that twice a year (for nine years) when she wakes up and "feels particularly good," she has the sensation that the breast is still there. However, she immediately "scolds herself for being silly." Two patients reported some feeling