1. What is Mondor’s disease?
2. What causes Mondor’s disease?
3. What are the symptoms of Mondor’s disease?
4. How is Mondor’s disease diagnosed?
5. How is Mondor’s disease treated?
6. Can Mondor’s disease increase my risk of breast cancer?

1. What is Mondor’s disease?

Mondor’s disease is an uncommon, benign (not cancer) breast condition.

It’s 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.

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

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

2. What causes Mondor’s disease?

It’s often unclear what has caused Mondor’s disease. However, it can be caused by:

  • vigorous exercise
  • an injury to the breast
  • wearing a very tight bra (though this is rare)

Mondor’s disease can be a side effect of breast surgery or breast reconstruction. If it occurs in the armpit after breast cancer surgery it’s known as cording or axillary web syndrome.

Find out more about cording and axillary web syndrome.

Mondor’s disease can also occur after a core biopsy of the breast.

3. What are the symptoms of Mondor’s disease?

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.

4. How is Mondor’s disease diagnosed?

Your GP 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 that 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.

5. How is Mondor’s disease treated?

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 can remain for several months before it goes away altogether. You may need to take pain relief such as anti-inflammatory drugs (either as a gel rubbed on the affected area, or as tablets). A warm compress (fabric pad) held against the area may also help.

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

6. Can Mondor’s disease increase my risk of 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: November 2018
Next planned review begins 2021

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