swollen rib

Hi.Not sure if this is related to my lumpectomy or any treatments i have had ie radiotherapy,but for the last couple of weeks my rib has been hurting on the side i had the op.When i showed my husband this evening he acted quite shocked at how different it looks to the other rib.I am so worried.Also i notice if i lift the breast i get slight cording going down to the ribs.Is this normal?Iam due to see the oncologist next monday so should i wait till then or should i ring my doctor or is the breast care nurse the best person to talk to.I just dont know what to do.Gill x

out of interest which rib?

I ask because I’ve had similar symptoms but have been able to not worry about them because I had bilateral and both sides have ribs that are swollen and sensitive (well the skin above actually)

Ring the nurse if it’s too painful or you’re worried but my ribs and armpits are still sensitive after 6 months and towards the sides more so.

I was warned that breast tissue does wrap around the back a bit and so I do understand where the pains are from, it’s healing basically.

Hope yours is the same.


Hi Angie had wle on the left side at the end of january,rads in may and now am on Zoladex and Tamoxifen.I can honestly say i feel that the affected side is getting worse not better.(perhaps i am impatient)It is the bottom rib on the left side that is affected.It just feels like a bruise would feel and is puffy to the point there is a noticable crease on the skin.I went into search on this site last night and found that it is quite common.It did put my mind at rest a little.The name for it is Costochondritis(excuse spelling).However i will still get it checked out because of the niggle in the back of my mind that screams secondarys.Thanks for your reply and hope this helps you too.Gill x

Hi Minimode,

On my agreement form to have rads one of the ‘Serious or frequently occurring risks’ is stated as “Rib fracture (1%)” so I was wondering if this may be something to do with why your rib is hurting?
I did think it was an odd side-effect but didn’t take it in at the time so didn’t question it. I think I presumed it meant that your rib might be a bit weaker in future and be prone to a fracture in the event of a tumble but looking at the form now I suppose it does suggest this could be as a result of the rads.

Hi minimode

If you give our helpline a ring they should be able to offer you some further advice. You can call them on 0808 800 6000 - all calls are free and confidential.

best wishes


Hello Everyone

I thought it was only me! I had a mastectomy (left side) last November, chemo and rads, and couldn’t understand why it is so painful on my rib. The flesh feels bruised and puffy and it is particularly painful where I’ve got my tattoo from radiotherapy.

Anybody else got a painful tattoo?? Any idea what this means??

I’m seeing my Oncologist on 31st October so I will definitely mention it.


Lynda xx

I am due to see the oncologist tomorrow so will let you know how i get on billiejeanking.I dont have a painfull tattoo but can definately say that my underarm and breast feel worse not better.For a month or so i have been putting it down to rads but i finished those in may and wonder how long i can keep blaming the pain etc on that.Gill x

Hi Gill,

Many thanks, I look forward to hearing from you. It was quite painful last night laying on my left side and all this morning I had quite a bit of pain.


Lynda xx

Hi billiejeanking.Well went to see the oncologist today and she seems to think it is all part of the healing process.She said it could be a collectionb of fluid forming because of the lymph drainage system not working as well any more or she did mention Costochondritis that i mentioned in a previous conversation.She said to not allow it to get worse so give it a month and contact her if i felt it has got worse and she will arrange chest x rays etc.But she said to take some anti inflammatories and pain killers and hopefully it should help. Sorry to hear you had a bad night.When do you next see a consultant or oncologist? Gill x

Hiya Minimode,
You are describing exactly what I have had since February. I finished Rads last October. My 2nd rib is swollen and sore and have been treated for costochondritis. It is still no better. I have had X-ray, ultrasound and a bone scan, all of which showed nothing. My onc wants to rule out anything under my rib so i 'm having a CT scan on Thurs. Your does sound like the costochondrtis which i a side effect of rads, but I would still persue it if it continues. i will post my results.
Best Wishes
Julie XXX

Hi Gill

Many thanks for the info. Why do these things have such peculiar names?? As least you didn’t get fobbed off. You’ll have to let me know what you try and how effective it is.

I see my Oncologist on 31st October so I’ll definitely tackle him then. Can’t say we have the best of relationships. Usually if I tell him that I don’t like something he gives me more! Any sort of problems I have he nods sagely and blames it on the chemo. He’ll probably blame the radiotherapy this time. Anyway I’m due for an examination this time so I’ll get him to give the offending area a prod!

Let me know how you get on.


Lynda xx

What a shame you dont have a good relationship with your oncologist.Thing is we rely on them so much and put all our faith in every word they say.Not tried anything for my rib yet.Thought i would let nature take its course for a little while and see what happens.Doesnt seem too bad at the moment.Let me know how you get on with oncologist on 31st october and i hope you are nott too uncomfortable at the moment with your rib.Gill x

Hi Gill

The affected area seems alot better at the moment. If I poke it it still feels tender!

Hope yours continue to improve. I’ll let you know what happens on 31st October.


Lynda xx