Mondor’s disease

Mondor’s disease is a rare, benign (not cancer) breast condition.

Although it is much more common in women, men can also get Mondor’s disease.

What is Mondor’s disease?

Mondor’s disease is a rare condition caused by inflammation of a vein just under the skin of the breast or chest wall. It’s also known as thrombophlebitis.

It can affect any of the veins in the breast, but most commonly affects those on the outer side of the breast or under the nipple.

It’s often unclear what has caused Mondor’s disease. However, it can be caused by vigorous exercise, an injury to the breast and, rarely, as a result of wearing a very tight bra. Mondor’s disease can be a side effect of breast surgery, or can occur after a core biopsy.

Although Mondor’s disease does not cause breast cancer, on very rare occasions, it can be a sign that there is a cancer in the breast.

What are the symptoms?

Mondor’s disease looks like a long narrow cord under the skin, which is often red and painful to touch. Over time, the narrow cord becomes a painless, tough band where the skin becomes pulled in.

If the arm on the affected side is raised, causing the skin over the breast to stretch, a shallow groove can be seen over the cord, making it more noticeable.

How is it diagnosed?

Your GP (local doctor) will examine your breast and is likely to refer you to a breast clinic where you’ll be seen by a specialist doctor or nurse. 

The specialist at the breast clinic may be able to confirm you have Mondor’s disease after examining you.

If not, they may want you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) and/or an ultrasound scan (a scan which uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the breast tissue) to make a diagnosis.

Find out more about the types of test you may have.

Treatment

You won’t usually need treatment for Mondor’s disease as it will get better by itself.

The pain will usually only last for a couple of weeks, but the cord remains for several months before it goes away altogether. You may need to take pain relief such as an anti-inflammatory medication (either as a gel rubbed on the affected area or as a tablet).

Resting the arm and wearing a well-fitting bra may help to relieve the discomfort. For more information, you can download our handy guide, Your guide to a well-fitting bra.

What this means for you

You might feel anxious about having Mondor’s disease. Even though you may feel relieved that it’s a benign condition, you may still worry about breast cancer.

Having Mondor’s disease doesn’t increase your risk of developing breast cancer. However, it’s still important to be breast aware and go back to your GP if you notice any other changes in your breasts, regardless of how soon these occur after your diagnosis of Mondor’s disease.

Last reviewed: July 2015
Next planned review begins 2017

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